Surf School (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for sexual humor, nudity and language
Running time: 86 min.
Cast: Cory Sevier, Ryan Carnes, Harland Williams, Laura Bell Bundy, Miko Hughes, Lee Norris, Sisqo, Angie Ruiz, Diane Delano, Taylor Negron, Lin Shaye, Chad Amsel, Eriko Tamura, Ellen Hollman
Director: Joel Silverman
Screenplay: Joel Silverman
Review published July 17, 2007
A litmus test for all potential viewers. Do you find the following dialogue funny?
"I knew a little surfer rebel like you once. Duke Kowalski. You know what I did to him? I superglued his nut sack to the back of a Mahi-mahi. You know what that does to a nut sack, son, bouncin' up and down on the waves? One day you're like a little 19-year-old peach sack, the next day, you're an 80-yeard-old mongo sack. You know what kind of pain that is, son? That's like sittin' in the corner seeing how many onion rings you can stack on your shaft. Except you forgot to let 'em cool off first. Now legend has it, on a hot summer night, when the moon's just right, you can hear ol' Dirk screamin' in the dark, while the Mahi-mahi's laughin'! AAWWWWHHH!! AWWWWHHH!!"
Several things come to mind when you hear dialogue like this, spouted by Harland Williams (Hot Tamale, Robots) playing Rip, the burnt-out surfer teacher of the surf school. First thing you notice is that he can't get the name of the guy he's talking about right. Second, he says Mahi-mahi twice -- if you see the film, you'll be hard-pressed to remember a line spouted by Williams that doesn't mention the fish. Third, you'll notice it isn't remotely close to funny. And lastly, should you still be foolish enough to choose to watch this, you'll find that the agonizing torture mentioned in the anecdote is far less painful an experience than sitting through Surf School.
Of course, when I tell you that Harland Williams gets top billing, it says all you need to know about the quality of this film.
Here's what treats are in store for those who dare venture into the treacherous waters that comprise Surf School (how about a top 10?):
1. The aforementioned Rip, a drunken surfer on the beaches of Costa Rica. Oddly, he has no tan. He also doesn't surf. He has a girlfriend who is dead, and her name is "Ghost Babe". He likes to say "mahi-mahi" as if he were doofy, dropped as an infant, perhaps a few times. He likes to fart and poop in front of the other guys. We get to hear it, mostly because the writer-director Joel Silverman (Death to the Supermodels, Full-Court Miracle) thinks he is making a comedy.
2. There is also a geek named Larry (Norris, "Boy Meets World") . His mother says to avoid women because they are the Devil's spawn. He's a virgin -- hence the clever nickname of "Virgin Larry". Spoiler: he gets laid in the film, but not before having a sexual encounter with a chimpanzee. But it's OK, because he didn't know it was the chimp who brought him to orgasm. The monkey spanked him first.
3. If there's anything that Surf School has in abundance is women. Actually, the one thing they aren't called is women. More often than not, they are called chicks, babes, or willing receptacles for a sperm deposit. If you aren't toned, tanned, and blonde, you just aren't worth knowing. Watch a nonconformist young woman turn into just another beach bimbo, and soon she is the most wanted girl in Costa Rica. Ladies -- I mean chicks -- it's just that simple.
4. Taylor Negron (The Last Boy Scout, Nothing but Trouble), who also serves as a producer of the film, dry humps frumpy Diane Delano (The Wicker Man, The Ladykillers) repeatedly throughout the film. By the way, watching any film in which Negron appears past 1985 is always a sure-fire headache inducer. Delano is not exactly a beauty, but the boys seem to think that getting it on with her is even worse than Virgin Larry's monkey tryst. She likes to sing the 1960s classic, "Get Together", as she is stuck in the 1960s. Actually, everyone in the film seems to like singing this song, as it is sung or played about a half dozen times.
5. The plot involves the school geeks wanting to go to Costa Rica to beat the school jocks and bullies at their own game in the surf competition. It just so happens that there is a one-week surf class being taught right in the same spot one week before competition. Oddly, if not for the geeks, the bullies would have apparently had no competition whatsoever, as there is absolutely no one else going head to head except a few locals who happen to already be there.
6. Surf footage consists of far-away shots of a few guys who can surf somewhat riding about 5-foot waves. Between takes we see close-ups of the actual actors in the film looking like they aren't anywhere near the water. Then it will cut back to the guys who look nothing like the actors riding more puny waves.
7. The pep talk for the wannabe surfers involves a regurgitation of the big speech given in Braveheart. It's a shame that the ending of the film didn't also regurgitate the ultimate fate of William Wallace in the film. Nothing would please me more than to see the entire cast being disemboweled for our pleasure. Now THAT'S comedy. Perhaps this scene can be punctuated with Harland Williams discovering Mahi-mahi in his entrails before he expires.
8. The competition is hosted by a flamboyantly gay man who acts really, really gay. Gayer than gay. This is because a man acting like a stereotypical gay man is really funny. It's funny because we've never seen a flamboyantly gay man in a movie before. He hits on other men because he is really gay. A gay man hitting on other men is funny. Again, we've never seen this before in a film.
9. Speaking of things we've never seen before, how about the Asian character who butchers the English language. It's really funny to hear someone with a Japanese accent say, "I shled" when she really means, "I shred". Again. it's funny because it's never been pointed out that people who speak foreign languages have thick accents and difficulty pronouncing common English words. Thank God for Surf School for finally tapping into that goldmine of comedy!
10. Another thing I can thank the makers of Surf School for is in making me appreciate music. After hearing the theme song, "Surf School", about 37 times during the course of the film, I have miraculously learned to tolerate the crap they play on pop radio stations. In fact, it makes the 3-minute long scene of Harland Williams sharting into a Porta-Potty sound melodious. You'll long for more fart scenes, as they are the only scenes that Silverman deems to stop the music in, so we can savor every noisy emission. And here I thought he was called "Rip" because he shredded on the surfboard.
I could state that in order to enjoy Surf School, you have to obviously have a really bad sense of humor. I won't do that. I just think you have to find everything amusing. And I mean everything. An old woman bent over in a bikini. (Funny.) Taylor Negron speaking with a Russian accent. (Giggle-inducing.) If you can watch Harland Williams for more than a second before you wince in agony and hit the eject button, you're already a much more tolerant person than I will ever be.
Surf School is a 1980s throwback deserves to be thrown back...like a Mahi-mahi. (Hilarious.)
p.s. Braveheart is funnier.
©2007 Vince Leo