Teen Beach Movie

Disney has found the Next Big Thing. The Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie surpassed even High School Musical in ratings. So get ready to see more of Tanner, Rascal, Cheechee, Dopey and Grumpy (okay, maybe not the last two). When the blandly titled Teen Beach Movie made its TV debut on July 19, it drew in 8.4 million viewers as opposed to High School Musical’s 7.7 million (L.A. Times). In the following week, over 5 million more tuned in through DVR playback. The 13.5  million total ranks it as the second most watched cable television movie of all time, trailing only High School Musical 2.

Disney hyped its Teen Beach Movie partly by teaming up with Honda and Best Western hotels. Neither brand could appear in the film itself, due to rules that restrict product placement in kids’ entertainment. But the automaker and hotel chain ran TV, social media and radio ads promoting the movie. Best Western went so far as to display life-sized character standees in their lobbies. There are also plenty of retailers selling Teen Beach merchandise, from the movie soundtrack to clothes and toys.

The story of Teen Beach Movie is both current and retro. A modern young couple, McKenzie a.k.a. Mack (Maia Mitchell) and Brady (Ross Lynch), are magically sent into the world of a Sixties-era beach movie. Their interactions with the other teens change the plot of the movie-within-a-movie. Soon the Sixties characters fall in love with Mack and Brady, creating love triangles across the bounds of time and reality. There’s also a goofy subplot involving a mad scientist and an evil scheme to control the weather, and thus the world. Of course, I don’t have to say whether or not the kids save the day and live happily ever after. It’s a Disney movie, isn’t it?