3 Reasons Why You Should Drop What You’re Doing And Go Watch Teen Beach Movie

7 Aug


High School Snoozical, go home. You’ve just been blown out of the saltwater.

After having first seen this movie while babysitting the World’s Coolest Ten-Year-Old, I’m in love. Parents, hear me out: if you want a movie that sets a good example, Disney’s finally got it right. Other kids: just watch the movie. Spoiler-free summary:

McKenzie (Mack) and her boyfriend Brady, are magically transported into Brady’s favorite movie, Wet Side Story (a spoof on West Side Story, in which warring bikers and surfers fight for control over a local hangout, in 1962). They find that their presence in the movie has changed the course of events, and that they must find a way to get back to the real world.

It sounds dumb. It looks dumb. It’s the best thing to come out of Disney Channel since ever. Here’s why you should not just let your child watch it, but pretty much sit them in front of the TV and force them to.

  1. It’s self-aware: Like every movie-musical in existence, the characters occasionally break out in exuberant song. Unlike every movie-musical in existence, this is not treated as a normal phenomenon outside the social bubbles of high school theater kids. TBM not only acknowledges that sudden, elaborate choreography is weird, but demonstrates that it can be incredibly pretentious and annoying. Terrible movie lines are acknowledged as such: “You saved my life!” “I mean, not really, the stage is like two and a half feet…”  Hollywood magic (characters’ constantly perfect hair despite, y’know, swimming in saltwater) is a scary awful signal that Mack and Brady have been in a movie too long. There’s an entire song about how the main character really doesn’t want to be singing right now.
    It’s a refreshing message: how people act in real life isn’t always how they act in the movies. And that’s totally fine.
  2. The main characters are all likeable – and human: Nobody sucks. Every single character, even the bad guys, is someone you wouldn’t mind being trapped in a cave with. If you’re wondering why this is a big deal, I cordially invite you to watch Hannah Montana or Lizzie McGuire.
  3. It advocates the kind of healthy relationships I’d want my kids to learn: Finally, a lead female whose to-do list is not: “Wake up looking pretty, get man, gain unanimous social recognition and praise.” And Brady’s a fantastic role model for being comfortable in one’s masculinity, and not needing to prove it. We’ve come a long way from Disney’s disastrous Little Mermaid.  During “Like Me,” in which Mack and Brady (being from 2013) butt heads with the 1960’s over proper courtship practices, Mack sings one of the lines that truly took my heart away:
    Mack: “Pick up the check!”
    Biker Girls: “No, bake him a pie!”
    Because equality means women can pay for dinner sometimes too.[1] The encouraging messages towards young men and women aren’t subtle; both characters’ confidence and assertiveness smashes you over the head like a surfboard.
    “Why does she need a man to be happy?” Mack asks Brady, frustrated. “Because it’s 1962,” answers her boyfriend. And later, during the above song:
    Surfer Boys: “Hang with the dudes – don’t let her know how much you care,”
    Brady: “Look in her eyes, and tell her even if you’re scared.”
    C’mon, you’d rather have your daughter obsessing over her career than a guy, and you’d rather have a son who’s able to express himself. On top of that, there’s a variety of body types and ethnicities in the movie, and I actually believe that these kids eat breakfast.

In addition to all this, it has the same charm and catchiness as every other Disney movie-show-cartoon-etc. It’s like someone reviewed all the criticisms of Disney’s previous work (fakeness, hateable characters, bad role models) and fixed them, while still keeping the good bits. If Disney continues like this, the World’s Coolest Ten-Year-Old has a lot to look forward to.

Stop reading this article. Go find a telly.

[1] It is my personal and somewhat extreme belief that women should not be allowed to complain about the pay gap and then expect a partner to pay for every single date. You want equality? Act like it – all the time, not just when it conveniences you.

Also, the practice of men picking up the check is left over from an outdated era when women were not allowed to work. Our grandmothers whined at the government really hard so that I could attend college, get a job, and get paid about the same as a dude. With those rights come responsibilities.

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