Teen Beach Movie

 
(i)

 

Heavily marketed musical is wholesome fun for tweens.
  • Review Date: July 19, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie intends to entertain rather than educate, but there are some strong messages about self-awareness and appreciating individuality.

Positive messages

Viewers see a teen wrestle with conflicting emotions about her future goals and the expectations placed on her by others. The process teaches her to listen to her heart and trust her instincts, which earns her the respect of those around her and gives her a stronger self-identity. Positive relationships with friends and family are a source of strength for many of the characters. Because the story exists in two different eras, there are some gender stereotypes that exist in scenes set in the past (girls make it their goal to land a boyfriend, guys assume the dominant role in relationships, etc.) that are then challenged by the modern-day characters, with positive messages about gender equality, tolerance, and individuality.

Positive role models

Brady and McKenzie help make good changes in Tanner's and Lela's lives by inspiring them to stand up for what they believe. It's their willingness to challenge the status quo that changes how the teens think and winds up saving them all.

Violence & scariness

The movie's villains are more comical than they are intimidating, but they do hold teens hostage and stun one with a ray gun at one point. There's some brief peril and a few moments during which a main character's safety is in question, all with predictably happy results.

Sexy stuff

Brady and McKenzie are an item throughout the story, but their physical contact is limited to hugging and a couple of near-kisses. Other teen relationships develop as the story unfolds, all with similarly innocent expressions of affection.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The Teen Beach Movie’s marketing machine churns out products like apparel, accessories, and home decor; a soundtrack featuring the movie's 12 songs is available on iTunes and in stores; Radio Disney events around the country distribute promotional items bearing the movie's name and the stars' images; and other promotions are linked to One Direction and R5 (Ross Lynch's band) concerts.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, like High School Musical before it, Teen Beach Movie is a marketing conglomerate designed to sell not just the movie, but also the extensive line of clothing, home decor, accessories, and, of course, a soundtrack associated with it. Tweens will flock to this highly promoted movie, thanks in part to their familiarity with stars like Ross Lynch, who hail from other Disney projects, and they won't be disappointed in the story's entertaining blend of nostalgia, comedy, and sweet teen romance. For their part, parents will be pleased with the movie's worry-free family friendly story that also sends wholesome messages about individuality, self-awareness, and positive relationships.

What's the story?

As summer winds down, surfers Brady (Ross Lynch) and McKenzie (Maia Mitchell) are determined to make the most of every last wave, but a bitter reality sets in when McKenzie's aunt arrives to usher her off to an exclusive prep school that will chart a new course for her future. Hoping to catch one last magical moment, McKenzie attempts to ride a monster wave, but she and Brady find themselves transported back in time and into the plot of his favorite beach-set movie, "Wet Side Story." Suddenly they’re caught in the middle of a turf war between surfers and bikers and inadvertently disrupt the romantic plot between stars Lela (Grace Phipps) and Tanner (Garrett Clayton), making themselves the objects of their affection. Desperate to find a way home, Brady and McKenzie try to redirect Lela's and Tanner's advances toward each other, thwart the plans of a couple of bumbling villains, and smooth over the disagreements between the rivaling gangs on the beach –- all while sidestepping breakout song-and-dance numbers in this melodious musical.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

TEEN BEACH MOVIE does more than pay homage to beach-party classics; it re-creates one into which it can drop modern-day characters and watch the fun begin. And begin it does, thanks to crafty writing and charismatic stars who light up the screen from the get-go. It's hard to pick a favorite between Brady's childish glee over partaking in his beloved movie plot and McKenzie's comical exploitations of classic movie cliches. The push-and-pull between the two is a delightful dynamic, setting the tone for other fantastic character interplays and some entertaining -– if predictably sanitized -– turns of events. Add to that a couple of bumbling villains with an ill-fated evil plot, and toe-tapping musical numbers aplenty, and you've got a story guaranteed to delight.

There's no doubt Disney knows how to design a quality product, but Teen Beach Movie also illustrates how adept the company is at marketing those products. Reassigning established stars ensures a pool of existing fans; tying the brand name to everything from bedding to lunch boxes promises it stays in the public eye; and linking it to a soundtrack of brand-new songs yields multiple platforms on which today's tweens can make it part of their vernacular. Happily, though, this is the only concern in an otherwise delightful offering for tweens, and it doesn’t waste the opportunity to promote some great messages about listening to your heart, respecting others, and being true to your individuality.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether this is an accurate portrayal of teen life. Do you find Brady and McKenzie's relationship realistic? What challenges do they face? How might you cope with them in a different way?

  • Tweens: Have you ever been in a situation that called for you to stand up to your peers? Why is that hard to do? How do you handle peer pressure?

  • Talk to your kids about how the media influences us. Prior to seeing this movie, how often did you see it promoted? Did that make you want to watch it? How do advertisements change our buying habits?

Movie details

This review of Teen Beach Movie was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 9 years old July 21, 2013
 

A great summer movie

A great summer movie, with a fun mix of bikers and surfers. But of course there is sex and love. Nothing 8yo+ can't handle.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Adult Written byRandomColoradan July 20, 2013
 

Good

The end message is to not put education before freedom and friendship, although I think she could have made new friends in school.Whether you agree or not I don't know. Although, in real life there would obviously be more conflict and argument from the aunt trying to get her to go to private school...but hey it's a kids movie. The ACTUAL movies of the era...Like "Just for the heck of it" are way more brutal, there's alot of real fight scenes, and they make teens look evil, which didn't really help the generation of the time with the whole anti-war movement. You can tell the movie wasn't really trying to put a message against the tide here: Follow your heart etc, be Liberal, blah blah, you know typical interests of teens.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byTinyToya July 19, 2013
 

Silly, nonsensical, seemingly harmless musical film.

First off, this movie is just plain silly but it is meant to be that way. Its intent was to seem lighthearted and feel good (it came across as random and nutty). However, I find that Maia Mitchell actually shines because she has a nice range to her acting. She is believable and likable. Unfortunately, Ross Lynch does not really deliver here. It was like he was plopped out of his Austin and Ally show and just reprised his role. He is pretty much a one note actor. Finally, there are a lot of girls in bathing suits (not slinky ones but actually quite tasteful ones). There is also some cutesy romance and a Zac Efron-ish type guy who is as flirty as he is dimwitted. This movie is pretty harmless and if a kid can sit through all the kookiness and musical numbers then more power to them.
What other families should know
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass