Full of silly, juvenile high jinks on the beach, UNDER THE BOARDWALK might easily have starred Frankie and Annette in their prime, especially if its unnecessary sex and profanity had been swept out on the waves. Despite the idiocy of its post-apocalyptic framing device, UNDER THE BOARDWALK
is likable in its dumb-bunny way, offering special appeal to adolescents prone to crushes that change daily, surfing freaks, or sociologists fixated on southern Californian dating rituals.
Floating in the debris-filled sludge of the Pacific Ocean of the future, a bearded surf maven relates the legend of Nick Rainwood (Richard Joseph Paul), the most radical wave warrior of all time. As the flashbacks unfold (we return to the future framing scene and its surfing narrator several
times), we revisit California before its ocean became a floating junkyard--a time when tanned teen manhood was tested on surfboards. However, the heroic Nick is torn between pursuing a lifetime of surfing with older buddy Midas (Hunter Von Leer) or accepting a college scholarship and entering
mainstream society. Meanwhile, far from this soul-searching in the San Fernando Valley, the Vorpin family faces its own crises. Self-centered wave champ Reef (Steve Monarque) mistreats his sister, Allie (Danielle Von Zerneck), pays no heed to his mom, and dumps on Andy (Keith Coogan), his visiting
cousin, who idolizes him. After dipping into his mother's marijuana stash, Reef and his pals drive off in pursuit of surf babes before an upcoming surfing competition, leaving Allie to escort the awkward Andy to a beach party, where they encounter various specimens of surfers, including
tough-talking Gitch (Roxana Zal). Busy fornicating on the beach, Reef's buddy Tripper (Christopher Rydell) doesn't realize that his friend's dope has been swept out to sea. Reef, noticing that Nick and his Valley contingent have arrived, blames Nick for stealing his dope, and a miniversion of
"Romeo and Juliet" erupts when Reef insists on rumbling and Nick and Allie can barely contain their starry-eyed romantic inclinations. During the ensuing melee, only Andy and Gitch get arrested, and she tries to loosen up the little geek. As for Nick, despite Midas' warnings of the dire
consequences of a Valley boy dating an LA chick, he can't forget Allie's wholesome blondness. After the surfing preliminaries (where both Reef and Nick are approached by a former surf champ who wants them to model a line of sportswear--would this be selling out the ideals of surferhood?), Nick's
friend breaks his arm in an accident caused by Reef, and a hardcore rumble is planned as things get more Capulet and Montague-ish. Abandoning true-blue Allie at a super-cool party, Nick tries to prevent the fighting, but ends up joining the fracas, much to his girl's displeasure. A few more
repetitive plot developments ensue, then comes the day of the big meet, when Nick lets the ultimate Big Wave pass him by--thus making a statement about good sportsmanship, commitment to college scholarships, and pressure from pushy girl friends who don't approve of surfing. Just as victory seems
to be in creepy Reef's reach, however, Gitch unexpectedly grabs the wave and rides it to victory, a humbling experience for the sexist teen villain. Meanwhile, true love blossoms for Nick and Allie, and in the future scene to which the film again flashes forward, it is revealed that the veteran
surfer who has been relating this water-logged fable is none other than former landlubber Andy.
For a while, as the large, often indistinguishable cast of young actors mouth their surf lingo, you may feel as if you've wandered into a foreign film that no one's bothered to subtitle, and you may begin to wish you'd prepared yourself with a cassette of ENDLESS SUMMER or BIG WEDNESDAY before
attempting to navigate the intricacies of language here. Viewers of UNDER THE BOARDWALK will have to wade through both the secret terminology of the new generation and some slangy surf lingo only a diehard board-waxer could dig. This may be a blessing in disguise, since much of the dialog is on
the level of "See Dick surf. See Jane ogle Dick." Moreover, anyone who's ever read the Cliff Notes for "Romeo and Juliet" can figure out the major subplot, allowing one to forget the story line and enjoy some spectacular surf footage, attractive scenery (both the beach topography and the half-clad
bodies of male and female sun-worshippers), and a swinging soundtrack.
In UNDER THE BOARDWALK, life isn't a cabaret so much as it's a mindless beach party, but despite the flimsy plotting and pedestrian direction, the film isn't a total wipeout, especially if you are young and able to fit into a form-fitting bathing suit, or can imagine yourself as such. And though
older audiences might enjoy this sand-and-surf nonsense more if an identification figure from their past (e.g., Fabian or Sandra Dee, although Sonny Bono does put in a cameo) had been added to the cast, the various rock 'n' roll classics on the soundtrack will soften the hearts of the most
inveterate surfing-phobes around. (Substance abuse, profanity, violence, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: Full of silly, juvenile high jinks on the beach, UNDER THE BOARDWALK might easily have starred Frankie and Annette in their prime, especially if its unnecessary sex and profanity had been swept out on the waves. Despite the idiocy of its post-apocalyptic f… (more)