The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beach Kings aka Green Flash (2008)

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The idea of this film intrigued me for three reasons. One, I love volleyball, so a volleyball film is always right up my alley. Two, I liked the idea of 90s pop culture icon Jaleel White and heartthrob David Charvet starring opposite current pop culture princess Kristin Cavallari. Finally, I wanted to see how, if at all, the story dealt with Charvet as a white American player trying to make his way into the NBA.

Beach Kings has Charvet as a former NC State All-American basketball player whose career takes a nose dive after he bricks a half-court last-second heave in a big game, and is seen as the goat because of it. He then forgoes the NBA to live in a funk for ten years, decides to make a comeback, gets that shot from Jaleel White when he sets up a tryout with the Clippers, then forgoes that by skipping out to play in a volleyball tournament-- a sport he'd only been playing for a couple weeks. Anyway, despite making it further in the tournament than he should've, he's upset he loses, goes into another funk, only to have the biggest player on the tour take him on as his new partner. He uses Charvet to make him affable with the fans, then cuts him loose, forcing Charvet to team back up with the guy from the first tournament so he can win this new one.

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Did that sound convoluted enough? This was extremely poorly written, and normally for a DTV Rocky rip-off I'd be more forgiving, but some of the ideas they tried to sell were just too ridiculous. First, who holds a guy responsible for bricking a half-court last-second shot? How is that a black mark on a guy's basketball career? And how hard would it be to just say he had a bad day, went 0-for-15 with ten turnovers, and that's what killed him? The difference is with the latter, we just go "classic bad sports movie with hero looking for redemption", while with the former we go "What? What the hell are you talking about?" Beyond that, the script was so bad it was hard to watch. It was like Bi-polar Theater with the extreme, out of place reactions characters had to situations they were confronted with. It was just a mess.

What's so fascinating, though, was the potential this had to be great. Not just not bad or really good to make fun of, I mean great. Just think of it: Charvet's character is playing big time ACC basketball with an undiagnosed mental disorder. After losing the big game, his life goes into an downward spiral, and he turns to volleyball in the mental institution he's sent to. When he gets out and has what he thinks is control of his life, he tries his hand at competing, and he's actually very good, but as the stakes grow, his mental issues pop up again, and so does the turmoil. One other element this film had was its use of The Zone, which is a legitimate phenomenon-- I've had pick-up games where I go lights out and have no idea how I did it. Anyway, Charvet's character in the movie would go into The Zone and become unstoppable. What if his meds prevent him from getting to that exalted level, and he has to decide between winning and his sanity? I guess what frustrates me the most was how good this film could've been.

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The moment I saw Jaleel White was in this, I knew I had to have it. Good ol' Steve Urkel. He was actually really good here in his limited capacity, almost in a Jimmie "JJ" Walker style of role. I'm not sure how much he was good compared with the lack of talent around him, or if it was really him, so I'd like to see him in a Dolph Lundgren or Steven Seagal film. That's the key for an actor like that: to be the comic relief in a bad action film and not annoy the audience.

David Charvet's character doesn't date Kristin Cavallari's, but she does hit on him quite a bit. The age difference didn't bother me too much-- him 37, she just turning 23 a few days ago (happy birthday, by the way)-- it was the idea that he was a teen heartthrob on Baywatch when she was seven. It was like two ships passing in the night, he on his way down, and she on her way up; though I think he and Jaleel White would rather it be they were just meeting her at the same port as they all made the trip on their way up. Maybe more than anything, it was a clash of worlds-- the modern pop reality star acting alongside two pillars of 90s pop culture: Steve Urkel and Baywatch. I wonder if White and Charvet were ten years younger if they would've cut their teeth on a CW teen drama and starred in summer slasher films.

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ESPN's Outside the Lines did a feature recently on the dwindling number of white Americans in the NBA. It was territory that Beach Kings could've covered, but didn't. I can kind of understand that, but it would've made things more believable if they had. Say, instead of getting a shot with the Clippers, he can't because they don't see the point of a slow white boy trying out, and volleyball becomes his only option. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think any perception of white boys being slow or whatever keeps them out of the NBA. Last time I checked, Steve Nash is a white Canadian, and I'm not sure there's much difference between the two, and he won two MVPs. There's much more going on with that than anyone could cover with a 23-minute TV show, or even with a 90-minute movie, but it would've been another easy inclusion to make the film just a little better that the filmmakers decided to forgo in favor of a completely implausible scenario of Charvet turning down a shot with the Clip Show in favor of a volleyball tournament so early in the movie.

This is one of those films that might be enticing, seeing Urkel's and Charvet's names on the cover. Don't do it! You'll be in pain for a long time to come. I know, it looks so hilarious, and sometimes it was, but it was more confusing and dumb than anything, which was hard to take. Even harder was knowing a few tweaks here and there would've made it pretty good.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104066/

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