×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Phat Beach

Though "Phat Beach" is concocted from a potentially filling stew mix of hip-hop music, comedic coming-of-age travails and the lure of the Southern California beach culture for two suburban teens, the pic is lean cuisine. Cooked up for young fans of the "House Party" comedies and the Wayans brothers' raucous outings, "Phat's" bite on the genre is too bland and its gags too warmed-over to satisfy the hunger of its targeted auds.

With:
Benny King - Jermaine (Huggy) Hopkins
Durrel Jackson - Brian Hooks
Mikey Z - Gregg Vance
Candace Williams - Claudia Kaleem
Carl King - Erick Fleeks
Janet King - Alma Collins
Tasha King - Candice Merideth
Tanya Watkins - Sabrina De Pina
Denise Marie - Jennifer Lucienne
Coolio - Himself

Though “Phat Beach” is concocted from a potentially filling stew mix of hip-hop music, comedic coming-of-age travails and the lure of the Southern California beach culture for two suburban teens, the pic is lean cuisine. Cooked up for young fans of the “House Party” comedies and the Wayans brothers’ raucous outings, “Phat’s” bite on the genre is too bland and its gags too warmed-over to satisfy the hunger of its targeted auds. After a brief theatrical banquet, pic should fare OK on vid menus.

Benny King (Jermaine “Huggy” Hopkins) is an overweight and overwrought teen who is facing a dismal summer in Bakersfield, Calif. His stern father (Erick Fleeks) is pushing him to work at a cramped hamburger joint, while dismissing Benny’s heartfelt desire to pursue his literary aspirations. Benny makes a stab at the work ethic, but his mind constantly wanders into fantasy visions of his dream lover (Claudia Kaleem), and his concentration is corrupted by his teen playboy pal Durrel (Brian Hooks).

Durrel convinces Benny that girls and money await him on the beaches of nearby Southern Cal. When Benny’s family leaves on vacation, it’s the boys’ cue to “borrow” Benny’s father’s beloved Mercedes convertible and hit the sands to cash in on Durrel’s scheme to sell cheap sunglasses to the beach denizens.

As soon as the duo hit the beach, problems ensue, most arising from Durrel’s inability to concentrate on anything other than his pursuit of available females. Though some viewers may find the crude language and misogynistic attitudes offensive, Durrel’s low-down ways are counterbalanced by Benny’s constant criticism and belief in treating women with respect. There are plenty of obligatory encounters with bikini-clad girls and a good-natured running feud with white homeboy wannabe Mikey Z (Gregg Vance).

Though rap star Coolio is prominently featured in the promotions for the pic, fans won’t get enough from the charismatic singer’s brief cameo and short musical interlude. Disappointment is also in store for those drawn by the music, which is underutilized. Party scenes are lethargic, despite the best efforts of editors Richard Nord and Jeremy Craig Kasten to pump up the pic’s generally tame direction. Other tech credits are so-so.

First-time helmer Doug Ellin deserves credit for steering the sub-par script without resorting to MTV-style visual gimmicks, which only would have made the situation more derivative than it already is. His greatest strength is in the handling of the perfs of Hopkins, Hooks and Vance. Hopkins’ sweet vulnerability is wasted here and would be better placed in a pic with more substance, while Hooks and Vance are a winning pair of comedic newcomers.

Phat Beach

Production: An Orion release of a Live Entertainment and Connection III Entertainment presentation. Produced by Cleveland O'Neal. Executive producer, Michael Schultz. Co-producers, Brian E. O'Neal, Juanita Diana. Directed by Doug Ellin. Screenplay, Ellin, Brian E. O'Neal, Ben Morris; story , Cleveland O'Neal, Brian E. O'Neal.

Crew: Camera (color), Jim Lebovitz, Jurgen Baum; editors, Richard Nord, Jeremy Craig Kasten; music, Paul Stewart, Gary Meals; production design, Terri Schaetzle, Colleen Devine; art direction, Le'Ce Edwards-Bonilla, Suzan A. Muszynski; costume design, Mona Thalheimer; sound (Dolby), Paul Ratajczak; associate producer, Donna Shirazi; assistant directors, Jeremy Goldcheider, Steven Buhai, Chad Rosen, Josh Oliver; second unit directors , Andrew Leary, Thianar Gomis; second unit camera, Dave Perkal; casting, Connection III. Reviewed at the Galaxy Theater, L.A., Aug. 1, 1996. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 84 MIN.

With: Benny King - Jermaine (Huggy) Hopkins
Durrel Jackson - Brian Hooks
Mikey Z - Gregg Vance
Candace Williams - Claudia Kaleem
Carl King - Erick Fleeks
Janet King - Alma Collins
Tasha King - Candice Merideth
Tanya Watkins - Sabrina De Pina
Denise Marie - Jennifer Lucienne
Coolio - Himself

More Film

  • Festival director Thierry Fremaux speaks to

    Cannes: Thierry Fremaux on the Lineup's Record Number of Female Directors, American Cinema and Political Films

    The Cannes Film Festival has unveiled a lineup for its 72nd edition that includes some high-profile Hollywood titles, genre movies and films from 13 female directors. The official selection has been applauded by many for mixing established auteurs like Pedro Almodovar (“Pain and Glory”), Terrence Malick (“A Hidden Life”) and Xavier Dolan (“Matthias and Maxime”) [...]

  • RUDOLF NUREYEV 1961

    Film Review: 'Nureyev'

    It would be absurd to say that Rudolf Nureyev lived, or danced, in anyone’s shadow. He was a man who leapt and twirled and flew onstage, all muscle but light as a feather, with a freedom and force that reconfigured the human spirit. There’s no denying, though, that over the last few decades, and especially [...]

  • Die Kinder Der Toten review

    Film Review: 'Die Kinder Der Toten'

    The hills are alive (or rather, undead), with the sound of music (also mastication and the moaning of zombies) in Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska’s experimental, dialogue-free, home-movie-style riff on Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Kinder Der Toten” (The Children of the Dead). A seminal text in Jelinek’s native Austria, the 1995 book has never been translated [...]

  • Idol review

    Film Review: 'Idol'

    How many twists can a plot undergo before it snaps? This, more than any of the many political, moral and personal conundrums that snake through “Idol,” seems to be the question writer-director Lee Su-jin is most interested in posing with his extravagantly incomprehensible sophomore feature. A seedy political thriller by way of grisly revenge movie [...]

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content