"Nelson, wherever you look: skin, skin, skin," exclaims Adam (Perry Lang) as he and his friend Nelson (David Knell) arrive in Fort Lauderdale for the holiday, and for most of the running time, that's about all the plot there is. The only thing keeping the movie from passing out in a closet is a remarkably simple twist on the age-old teen movie archetypes. When Nelson and Adam arrive at the hotel, they eventually discover their room has been double-booked with strangers Stu (Paul Land) and O.T. (Steve Bassett, who looks remarkably like a young Josh Brolin), but instead of some sort of lame standoff between our nerdy heroes and the jock-like intruders, the four hang out all week. I can't think of the last time I saw a movie where the main characters made new, legit friends (unless it was the focus of the plot), and it'd be even harder to come up with one where the new acquaintances weren't cut from the same cloth. Frankly, given this idea alone, I'm surprised nobody's tried to remake this movie yet.
The movie meanders for awhile as the group bonds, participating in dive contests, checking out girls, and getting drunk. Soon after, the movie's dull, uninteresting plot is introduced: Nelson has ditched working for his step-father Ernest Dalby (Donald Symington) on his campaign for the Senate. Ernest gets a gander at Nelson and Adam out partying in a photo in the paper, and drives his boat over to the area to try and get Nelson back. He assigns two henchmen (John Archie and Robert Small, literally credited as "Dalby's Henchmen" on IMDb) and a doughy weasel named Eddie (Richard B. Schull) to track Nelson down. I wasn't clear on exactly what Eddie's job was; he does everything that Dalby tells him to, but he's not really a right-hand man. One thing he does is to try to shut down the same motel that Nelson and Adam are staying at. Other than fun being Mr. Dalby's arch-nemesis, I wasn't sure why, but "Rocketdog2000" of the DVDTalk forums informs me that Eddie wants to steal the hotel for himself, away from his sister-in-law Geri (Jessica James). Either way, he lumbers along, looking unhappy, like one should expect of a teen-movie villain, getting defeated in wacky ways by those darn kids! Not the steering wheel! (wa wa waaaaa...)
At least three of the guys find and successfully woo a girl. O.T. catches the attention of rock 'n roller Joan (Corinne Alphen, who, I am informed by the DVD cover, was 1982's Penthouse Pet of the Year). The movie is obviously geared towards a certain audience, but Cunningham seems only mildly interested in his film's cheap thrills. There is an early scene where O.T. and Stu bring a pair of one-night-stands back to the shared hotel room, and a wet T-shirt contest (with girls AND guys!), but the real spotlight is pointed at Alpren, who puts on a couple of enthusiastic rock shows that are practically like music videos the film stops to make room for. They're sexy rather than sleazy, and O.T.'s interest in Joan is earnest and amusing. The same goes for the playful bonding between Nelson and Suzie (Jayne Modean), who he bonds with over Galaga. Adam is less interesting, mainly because Perry Lang is all over the map, and the movie seems uninterested in Stu, who basically gets ignored.
As early as the second half of the second act, the number of contrivances designed to hurt and help our characters begins to pile up. Nelson gets thrown out of a hotel (were hotels in the 1980's really adamantly against hookups?) and encounters an alligator. Characters are kidnapped and must be rescued, ragtag groups of people bond and fight against The Man, and various problems are solved using cream pies and life preservers (if only that worked in real life). In fact, I'm afraid to report that one character might even be meant to Learn Something About Life. Not that it matters. The real spring break is two things: an ideal and an experience. This is just a movie, and it's 26 years old. As long as you're looking for a bit of nostalgia and not either of the things the real deal might have been, the movie will probably fit the bill.
My DVD also came with a fuzzy blue wristband with the movie's logo on it, but it was inside the shipping box and not under the packaging, so I'm not sure if this little extra will be included with the DVD or not.
UPDATE (8/13/09): I am informed by Anchor Bay's Maria Kay (or Mariakay, I'm not sure) that the wristband doesn't come with the DVD, and by Jeff Garlin himself that he is the other diver in the dive competition that O.T. competes in. You learn something new every day!
The Video and Audio
UPDATE (9/10/09): Or not! Star David Knell has taken it upon himself to assemble his co-stars Perry Lang and Jayne Modean (plus scratchy phone calls with special guest stars Steve Bassett and Jeff Garlin) for a commentary track, which you can buy at the actor's official website (supposedly it will also be hitting Rifftrax at some point or another). It's a friendly, informal chat with plenty of interesting details about the shoot (Porky's II was filming simultaneously!) that should please fans. If you're a Spring Break lover and you're disappointed with the lack of extras on this release, it's well worth the four bucks to download and easy to sync up with the DVD (and I promise I'm not just saying that because Garlin mentions this very review during his short phone call).