Under the Boardwalk (1988)

56% – Critics
false% – Audience

Under the Boardwalk Storyline

Nick Rainwood and Allie Yorpin are a modern day Romeo and Juliet living in southern California, separated by the unbridgeable gulf of their backgrounds and torn between loyalty to their “gangs” and their real desires.

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Under the Boardwalk Movie Reviews

“Surf all your life. Just don’t be a surfer all your life.”

This story opens 20 years into the “future”, where one surfer is regaling another with the tale of Nick (Richard Joseph Paul, “Oblivion” 1 and 2), an amiable dude who could clearly aspire to a lot, although he’s currently content with his lot in life. He catches the eye of Allie (Danielle von Zerneck, “My Science Project”), another serious sort who is otherwise tired of dating surfers. The trouble? They belong to different warring factions in the Southern California surfing community, “Vals” and “Lokes”. Keith Coogan (“Adventures in Babysitting”) plays Andy, Allies’ sweet natured, naive cousin from the sticks.

Overall, “Under the Boardwalk” is nothing special, but it entertains in capable enough fashion, thanks to director Fritz Kiersch (“Children of the Corn” ’84) and a talented crew including cinematographer Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump”). The “Romeo and Juliet” inspired story allows for a fair amount of predictability, yet the movie remains appealing. It gets by thanks to its combination of comedy and drama, and its well chosen cast. The waves, of course, are out of sight, and the surfing sequences are very well executed. The score is by David Kitay (“Clueless”), and the soundtrack features an eclectic and catchy assortment of pop and rock, including an appearance by Surf Punks.

The young cast is quite engaging. Also putting in appearances are Roxana Zal (“River’s Edge”), Stuart Fratkin (“Teen Wolf Too”), Steve Monarque (‘Friday the 13th: The Series’), Hunter von Leer (“Halloween II” ’81), Brian Wimmer (‘China Beach’), Christopher Rydell (“Trauma”), Wallace Langham (‘CSI’), Elizabeth Kaitan (“Silent Night, Deadly Night 2”), Greta Blackburn (“Chained Heat”), Kurt Fuller (“No Holds Barred”), and Paul Carr (“The Bat People”). How nice it is to see the always welcome Dick Miller, in a small role as an official, and what a hoot to see Sonny Bono in a couple of scenes as an “ancient” surfer. Tracey Walter once again steals every scene he’s in, playing a philosophical beach bum who calls to mind his similar role in “Repo Man”. He even croons “Amazing Grace” at one point!

This probably wouldn’t have nearly as much resonance for viewers who aren’t part of the culture depicted here (certainly, there’s a ton of So Cal jargon tossed around), yet it does have some charm.

Seven out of 10.

I worked as an extra on this movie

…and frankly, I’m amazed at how highly it’s rated by the few IMDB users who have seen it. But then despite playing an unnamed surfer in the film, I don’t have much interest in surfing or surf movies.

The plot is very pedestrian, alternating between a surfing competition and light romance. Pretty bland fare. During filming (under the working title “Wipeout”) most of the crew knew they were creating bad cinema.

Note: the day shots were filmed in Seal Beach, and the night shots were filmed in Manhattan Beach, although they are supposed to be the same place in the film.

Wait…it gets better. (spoilers)

Is it really so hard to write a sports-themed adventure screenplay without the trite Romeo and Juliet cliché? Think of Under the Boardwalk as a surf-styled variation of the late 80s skate film, Thrashin’. (In fact, Brett Marx, who the curly blonde, Marone, was in Thrashin’). The film is told in flashback format as a surfer “from the future” narrates to his aquatic buddy the tale of the greatest surfer their beach has ever known. Much of the film concerns the conflict between some local surfers and some guys from the Valley (get a load of Stuart Fratkin’s stone cold mulletude) which gets considerably worse as Nick, the pacifist cutie from the Valley, falls in love with the sister of crude local surfer, Reef. Needless to say, you should expect a final surf-off-for-her-love-and-his-reputation finale.

Meanwhile, Nick has to make a decision about his future and whether he’ll accept a scholarship to attend Stanford or whether he’ll stay on the beach, get sponsored, and be what his friends may consider a true surfer-for-life.

The movie is the ultimate Hollywood perversion of surfers, their sport, and their culture, which is especially evident as the writers try to inject as much pseudo-surfing slang in the conversations between the Valleys and the locals (see the seen where Andy asks Reef’s sisters to translate the conversation between he and his friends). And this alone may be reason enough to turn the viewer off.

However, as the film continues, despite a lack of much substantive story development, the film does become more entertaining. And, aside from the terribly clichéd plot and even more ridiculous dialog, there are many things here that 80s fans might enjoy purely for the atmosphere and the somewhat disconnected situations that the characters become involved in. For one thing, it’s loaded with familiar b-movie 80s regulars like Kieth Coogan, Wally Ward, the gorgeous Chris Rydell, Marx, Fritkin, Tracey Walter (paying homage to his philosophical character of ‘Repo Man’), Dick Miller, and others. I particularly enjoyed the novelties of the party sequence (with a surfboard-styled bull ride that looked like a lot of fun and an excellent band with a guitar shaped from a skateboard!). I also liked Roxana Zal’s spunky character, Gitch, one of the surfers with the most impressive skills. And the little running gags throughout the film.

It is really the minor things that make Under the Boardwalk worth trying for you 80s fans out there.