Phat Beach (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's comments in white:

Take your basic whitebread beach movie from the early 60's.

A sensitive, geeky guy is supposed to spend the summer working and studying while his family is out of town. Needless to say, he is seduced by his slacker friend into hopping  in daddy's car, driving to the Ocean, and spending the summer at the beach. 

At first, he feels that he's made a terrible mistake. Not only is he letting his family down, but he's having no fun. His friend is getting laid, but he's too nerdy, too overweight, and is only interested in learning to write poetry. So he sits alone on the beach and dreams of making it with the girl of his dreams.  


There is brief exposure from several women; Claudia Kaleem, Nicole Amaral, Tanya Reid, Tamara Nicole Bennett, Glenice Brathwait, Devin De Ray, Panthere, and an unknown volleyball player.
 Finally he gets a chance. Turns out that he has the ultimate killer volleyball serve, and this makes him king of the beach, and he actually could move in on the dream girl. But when he sees what she is really like, he shoots her down, and picks up the sensitive geeky girl who had been there all along.

It's just another variant on an ancient theme - except for one thing. The cast consists of black people in 1996, not white people in 1961. Therefore, instead of Jan 'n Dean surf-and-gearhead music, it has hip-hop, and instead of the late Wolfman Jack as the resident colorful character, it has Coolio. Tuna's comments (below) are exactly right. There is no reason for this movie to have such a low IMDb score. It isn't a good movie, but it isn't any different from the Annette and Frankie movies, except that it has some nudity, and the beach bums don't need to work on a tan. The guy who plays the lead is kinda loveable, there is some OK lowbrow humor, and some OK music. It's just the same quality as an average, mildly entertaining straight-to-vid. Of course, it was not a straight-to-vid, but was released theatrically, which was substantially above its maximum level of competence.

The one thing that was completely inept, in both scripting and execution, was the volleyball tournament, which was decided by serves alone. Every game was 15-0; every serve was an ace. Every point was filmed identically. Show server hitting ball in close up. Show ball landing as two people dive for it. Repeat if necessary.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen 

  • no features

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Phat Beach (1996) is a male buddy beach movie with a minor twist -- the cast is primarily black. Most reviewers compare it to the great flood, the crucifixion of Christ, and running out of toilet paper. Frankly, it is not special enough to be that bad. Two buddies, one a fat virgin and the other a ladies man, take the fat kid's daddy's Mercedes and head for Venice, where they try to get laid. It is not really necessary to the script that they are black. It is simply a mediocre tittie flick. Maltin wasn't fooled, and awarded 2 stars, which is about right. IMDB readers say say 2.4/10, which is ridiculous. It is not special enough to be that low. 

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 2.4 
  • With their dollars ... it was released theatrically on 400 screens, grossed only $1.2 million.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Tuna and I agree with Maltin. It's OK as a time-killer. Average quality for a straight-to-vid, with some pleasant nudity sprinkled here and there. Unfortunately, it was a summer theatrical release, which was far above its level of incompetence.

Return to the Movie House home page