Meta didn’t seem to be a think when Back to the Beach came out. And while on the surface this seems to be a simple parody of beach party movies — it even uses the same character names from many of them — it has a heart of weirdness that makes it rise above what it could be, like the very best beach movies always do.
Director Lyndall Hobbs should have done more than this one film — she also worked in television — because I had such a blast watching this.
Frankie and Annette live far from the beach in Ohio, far from when he was the Big Kahuna and their love burned hot. Now he struggles to sell cars and she deals with her pain by charging shopping sprees and their son Bobby is in open rebellion.
On the way to a vacation in Hawaii, they stop to visit their daughter Sandi (Lori Laughlin, always ready to be the love interest in quasi-sport films like this and Rad) who is in love with a surfer. Hijinks, as I always say, ensue, leading to one last big beach movie.
Somehow, this is a movie that can have O.J. Simpson and Stevie Ray Vaughn in it, most of the Cleaver family from Leave It to Beaver along with Fishbone (who were in seemingly every late 80’s movie that needed a band that the Chili Peppers turned down*). I mean, Fishbone sings with Annette!
Plus, you get appearances from Don Adams, Dick Dale, Connie Stevens, Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Edd Byrnes and Pee-Wee Herman, who sings “Surfin’ Bird.”
Sadly, this would be Annette’s last film, as she was diagnosed with MS while making the movie. She asked that no one be told and completed her work.
*Fishbone is in Tapeheads, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, The Mask and The Tripper, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in Tough Guys, but man, it seemed like they were everywhere in 1986.