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Film / Back to the Beach

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A 1987 Affectionate Parody of the 1960s beach party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello... starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

Frankie is now a stressed out car salesman from Ohio, Annette is a housewife, and their son Bobby is a punk. They go on a vacation, but never make it past their layover in Los Angeles, where they find out their grown daughter, Sandi, is shacking up with a surfer named Michael. Frankie runs into his old flame Connie, which leads to a tiff between him and Annette. Hilarity, musical numbers, and many celebrity cameos ensue.

Back to the Beach contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: When Bobby announces he's changed his name to Surley, his father thinks he's changed his name to Shirley. And when he then decides to change his name to Knife, Sandi teasingly calls him "Nice".
  • Adam Westing: Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr. (foreshadowed by one of Michael's lines); Don Adams as the Harbor Master.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "You must represent darkness, evil, and godless Communism." "You forgot ugly, lazy, and disrespectful."
  • As Himself: O. J. Simpson (or not?), Dick Dale, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Fishbone, Pee-wee Herman, Barbara Billingsley, Jerry Mathers, and Tony Dow. It's not clear that all the celebrities are playing themselves. Except Bob Denver, who is Gilligan.
  • Aside Comment: The very last line of the movie. "Are we the corniest couple you've ever seen or what?"
  • Call-Back: Frankie's fake surfing for a commercial, and later Annette's "real" surfing with Troy.
  • Cameo Cluster: The whole movie is essentially a long series of cameo appearances by various performers, most of whom (like Frankie and Annette) were famous in The '60s. (Connie Stevens is an exception, appearing throughout the film in a major supporting role.) However many of the musical cameos are by then-modern acts such as Fishbone, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and (though he isn't usually regarded as a musician) Pee-wee Herman, who was probably the biggest star in the cast at the time of the film's release. Even the home video packaging emphasizes the film's cameos.
  • The Casanova: Troy (though in Annette's case he's a Casanova Wannabe).
  • Chekhov's Skill: Michael's skill at making surfboards. In the end, he monetizes it, to Frankie's delight.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The world's biggest wave which destroyed Frankie's career in Australia comes back to attack him in Los Angeles.
  • Crowd Chant: Kahu-na! Kahu-na! Kahu-na!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bobby, so very much. Also Sandi.
  • Deconstruction: Along with being an affectionate parody with lampshade hanging, it also deconstructs what would really happen when beach kids get older.
  • The '80s: The film's primary comedic conceit is the contrast of "modern" '80s beach culture with the '60s atmosphere of the original Beach Party movies.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Frankie is referred to by no name other than "The Big Kahuna" throughout the film. He is even credited as "Annette's Husband" at the end. This is because the character of "Frankie" was the property of Orion Pictures (who had bought out the original producers of the Beach Party movies, American International Pictures), who did not produce this film (Annette's character was usually called "Dee-Dee", which allowed them to use her real name in this movie). "The Big Kahuna" also is not from the original Beach Party movies, but Gidget.
  • Foreshadowing:
  • Fridge Logic: Invoked Trope by the bartender, played by Bob Denver, who gripes that he knew "a guy who could build a nuclear reactor out of coconuts but couldn't fix a two-foot hole in a boat."
  • Funny Background Event: A verbal one. When The Big Kahuna challenges the punks to the surfing contest he suggest they settle it like they did in the old days. You hear a random background voice say "A pajama party?"
  • Good Bad Girl: Annette's rival Connie. She spends a good chunk of time trying to steal Frankie—but has no real interest in Frankie. Why? Because she's supposed to, and it's a way for Annette to re-realize how good she has it with Frankie.
    Annette: I've always sort of wanted to be the bad girl...
    Connie: Impossible. But I'll tell you something. You sure have wasted an incredible pair of hooters.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: "Keith Richards lives on these things."
    • Doubly funny as Frankie needs a minute to remember who Keith Richards is. Then again, he is outrageously hung over.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Humanga Cowabunga from Downunder. Appropriate given it's kind of a memorable name.
  • Irony: Frankie sings "California Sun", but it was Annette who covered it in 1963.
  • Magical Realism: The film deliberately invokes the feeling of a bedtime story or a Fairy Tale, such as when Pee Wee somehow blasts off into space on a surfboard.
  • Medium Awareness: Annette, which is why she's never too upset. She knows the formula by heart, even if almost everyone has forgotten it.
  • Motorcycle Dominoes: Or surf board dominoes, in this case.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: The bartender (AKA Gilligan) when his buddy (AKA The Skipper) turns up at the bar and cheerfully announces it's time for them to go on a trip...
  • Operation: Jealousy: Toyed with by Annette.
  • Pun: "Somebody get me a net... well I didn't mean that kind of Annette."
  • Redemption Quest: Frankie in the surfing contest.
  • Reverse Psychology: Annette uses this on Bobby at one point.
  • Running Gag: Everyone gets Frankie's nickname "Big Kahuna" wrong.
    • When Sandi mentions her relationship with Michael is in trouble and asks what to do, Annette suggests a pajama party. Afterwards, there's a few more times when people are troubled and they think Annete's solution is another pajama party (though she has different solutions those times).
  • Slumber Party: A pajama party set up by Annette as part of her formuliac plan to get Frankie back.
  • Smug Snake: Bobbie. He's trying desperately to be hardcore and... isn't. Mostly because he's twelve.
  • Special Effects Failure: Invoked with the Big Kahuna surfing in front of an obvious rear screen projection, as a reference to the old surfer movies.