Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello were some of the earliest teen idols. And as the 1980s gave rise to cable television and the ability for channels to introduce these two to a whole new generation of fans, in 1987, Back to the Beach made its way onto the big screen and brought an updated twist to the “Beach Party” films of the 1960s.
I watched Back to the Beach over and over again when I was younger and it made its way to cable after the film’s theatrical release. I loved the songs and the campiness of the film, the playful cameos, and the idea that all your problems can easily be solved with a surfing contest. So I was excited to learn that the movie was arriving on Blu-ray for the first time and in time to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary. Back to the Beach has gotten a newly remastered version from a 4K scan of the film and the Blu-ray also includes a brand-new “Filmmaker Focus” with director Lyndall Hobbs. This featurette includes both insight to how the project came to be as well as never before seen home movies from the making of the film.
So what took Frankie and Annette Back to the Beach? After retiring from the limelight as teen idols after “The Big Kahuna” is involved in a surfing accident, Frankie and Annette have settled into life in suburban Ohio. Annette has become a doting and clearly bored housewife and Frankie has become hyper focused on work as the owner of a car dealership. Knowing the spark has gone out of their marriage and that they need a break, they decide to pack up themselves and their punk son Bobby, and head out on vacation for the first time in years. Along their way to Hawaii, they have a 10-hour layover in Los Angeles where they plan to visit with their daughter Sandi who lives at the beach where the couple first met 25 years before. However when the ghosts of their past reappear, the plans for Hawaii get scrapped as the two fight and fight to reignite the spark that they have lost.
This anniversary edition of the film is great. After all these years later, the movie holds up and it’s still just as campy and fun as it ever was. For those of us that were raised on reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club, Saturday afternoon showings of ’60s beach films, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and the B-52’s, Back to the Beach is a perfect combination of all of those rolled into one. This is still a movie I can watch over and over again. It’s fun, playful, and just an enjoyable watch. Plus, it has been difficult to get the Fishbone and Annette version of “Jamaica Ska” out of my head.
Back to the Beach has a runtime of 1 hours 32 minutes and the Blu-ray is available now. It comes in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key moments from the film.