Teen Beach 2
Instead of going to the movies -- the movies come to them!
If you watched the last Teen Beach Movie, then you will know what washed ashore at the closing credits. And you will be correct in assuming that in this sequel the characters from the movie-within-the-movie will show up in the real world – just like modern characters mysteriously visited the 1962 reel world of Wet Side Story last time.
According to the script, three months have past since the close of the last film. (But if you watch them back-to-back, you will be able to see the three years it really has been because the cast has aged quite visibly.) Presumably Brady and Mack (Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell) have spent the whole summer surfing, except for the brief interlude when they disappeared into the old beach-party movie. Now the teens are preparing to head back to the school because, as you may remember, Mack decided to stay in the coastal community instead of moving east to attend a private institution.
Mack starts her senior year with a studious attitude, definite career goals and membership in several clubs with environmental causes. Brady, on the other hand, is reluctant to shed his beach bum clothes, shrugs off plans for the future in favor of “just going with the flow,” and intends to spend all his free time surfing. Discovering they have such different priorities creates some big waves for the couple who spent the summer thinking they were perfect for one another.
Meanwhile, back in the campy beach flick, the characters are feeling bored with their scripted lives. Lela (Grace Phipps) is particularly discontent, so she talks her boyfriend Tanner (Garrett Clayton) into trying to find greener shores. With the help of a magical necklace the pair are transported into world of Mack and Brady where their old-fashioned perspective has them both marveling and questioning the state of the future.
After observing all the cliques on campus, it is obvious that intolerance hasn’t improved much in the last 60 years. (And that is further emphasized when Mack and Brady strictly forbid the pair to break into song in front of their peers.) However the prospects for woman certainly have expanded. For Lela the chance to learn things like calculus feels liberating. But not all is quite as rosy for Tanner whose is shaken by the discovery his good looks aren’t enough to conquer the new set of challenges.
Presented by the Disney Channel, this fish-out-of-water story pokes fun at the musical genre and some aspects of teen culture, while flaunting the gains of the feminist movement over the last half-century. Unfortunately, the girl empowerment messages come off a little trite at times, and are made at the expense of developing male characters, especially Tanner. He remains very self-centered and two-dimensional, with the only improvement to his vanity coming with the realization he could help someone else with a floundering relationship. (Lela points out his epiphany – condescendingly – which just adds a further sense of female superiority.)
Still, such nit picking will likely be inconsequential to Teen Beach 2’s intended audience. This group (mostly ‘tween girls) will be much more interested in the catchy tunes and snappy dancing. And despite a script that says breaking into spontaneous, choreographed musical numbers is silly, the screenwriters still create plenty of opportunities for the cast to do so.
With few other content issues (the worst of which is the fear that some characters may vanish and cease to exist) there are few reasons why parents would object to this made-for-TV movie. Except of course if you have limited patience with your own children repeatedly breaking into song and dance routines.