I’ve seen quite a few beach movies in my day, but never have I seen one about a group of Muscle dudes trying to take over the Beach from the crew. It’s a pretty interesting dynamic because you just aren’t sure who to root for. After all, which party is more sympathetic here? Probably the crew and that’s saying something. It’s certainly not any better than the other beach films, but it can make for some decent entertainment at times.
Frankie and the gang are hanging out at the beach like usual when the film starts off. Dee Dee wants them to eventually get married while Frankie insults the very concept. He believes that people should mess around with each other but stay available in case a better offer comes along. Sure enough, one does. A rich Contessa shows up and decides that she wants Frankie. Frankie’s eager to go with her and ditch his beach band. Can Dee Dee stop Frankie from doing this..and does she want to?
This film’s certainly old and you can tell that it is because of how Frankie acts. As I mentioned he believes being married is sort of like being trapped and the film never really plays this off as one of those “He’s totally wrong” angles. No, it’s just something that’s to be accepted and Dee Dee is the one who has to compromise and allow him to keep his freedom. She really looks bad in this film all things considered as Frankie gets to do whatever he wants with total freedom while she can’t get away. In all of the other films if she ends up with someone else than Frankie steals her back. In this case Frankie was totally willing to leave her for good, but then he was told that he would never be quite as rich as the Contessa so he went back to Dee Dee for the rebound. It’s just not a good look and both of them come out worse for it. Dee Dee shouldn’t take him back and Frankie certainly won’t get any sympathy from me for all of this. I was hoping she would finally dump him here.
The Contessa isn’t really any better. She buys a whole body builder team just so she can be with one of them, but then ditches them over night for Frankie. She doesn’t seem like the type of person who would actually be very loyal so I couldn’t feel bad for her either at the end. She definitely should have fired her manager for messing everything up though. It wasn’t even an accident, the manager intentionally sabotaged her chances with Frankie. In comparison, the other manager (Fanny) was okay I guess. At the very least he wasn’t afraid to challenge his opponents. The downside is that Fanny’s not very smart and quite a bit of his screen time is for proving this. So much for this guy.
The body builders are also poorly developed characters. They’re all built, but that’s their only character. They act like puppets most of the time as they only move when they are told too and the poses get old very quickly. You also can’t take them seriously since Frankie is able to get past all of them even once he was cornered. If these guys can’t even beat a normal teenager then what good was all that training for? I do have to give the film some credit for not pulling a cop out with the climax here. The teenagers actually had a real fight for a change with the body builders and it may be the best fight of the series. There was another film where we had a big fight scene, but I dare say that this one managed to come out on top. It is a little cheesy that the body builders didn’t win though.
Unfortunately as this is a beach film there is a considerable amount of fanservice. Certainly enough to drop this film to low tier territory. You just can’t go a single scene without something sketchy happening. Some of it is used for running gags, but that doesn’t really help its case. Then the villains also seem sketchy at times and it just doesn’t make for a good mix. This is why we need more films to take place somewhere colder like Russia. Then the films wouldn’t have this issue.
Of course at the end of the day what really hurts this film above all else is the writing. The film just doesn’t flow very well and none of the characters are even remotely likable. They all try to outdo the other in terms of who can make the worst decisions. Instead of being loyal the friends will even watch as you are dragged across the beach. That’s definitely not cool even if the opponents are doing their best Superman impressions. Not to mention that the muscle men are outnumbered quite badly.
Surprisingly we didn’t see Eric Von Zipperman as for once the actor played someone else instead. I can’t say that I missed him,but his iconic yell was always pretty fun to have around. There’s not a whole lot more to say about this film as you get the general gist of it. It really promotes the whole rebound play angle and that’s the part that really doesn’t age too well. You simply can’t be so easily swayed like Frankie is and still get such a happy ending. Maybe one day Dee Dee will realize the truth.
Overall, Muscle Beach Party is everything that you think it will be. The film hits all of the Beach tropes and then some. As a result you can also pretty accurately predict everything that will happen as the films have a very solid flow chart at this point. Frankie makes Dee Dee jealous, she returns the favor, he actually gets together with someone else, Dee Dee pretends to, Frankie goes even further, Dee Dee finally leaves, Frankie chases her,…then start from the first step. It’s not a great formula. Well, at least Frankie does warn her every film that he wants to stay free so in a sense she knows what she’s getting into. Their plot still needs some closure though. Instead of recommending this beach movie I’d recommend you watch something very wholesome like Mortal Kombat!