Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story (2011/MVD Visual DVD)/Beautiful Wave (2010/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
C+/B- Sound: C/B- Extras: C/D Main Programs: B-/C
like all sports and recreation, was sold as a male-only world or it was assumed
that only males would be interested.
However, a few things happened that would make things different in this
case. One, the men would inadvertently
become objects of the female gaze (and incidentally of course, gay males) which
is a role-reversal that no other sport offered while both wrestling and diving
might be considered to dirty and rough like boxing for mainstream females. Then the surf craze happened in the 1960s, as
the counterculture and second wave of Rock music (replacing bobby soxer pop
ladies were also interested in doing more than watching and some started to
surf as well, and in one case, the father of one of those young ladies wrote a
fiction novel that would change everything and Gidget would join The Beach Boys and California Dreaming as a new
permanent discourse in pop culture and American Mythology. Accidental
Icon: The Real Gidget Story (2011) tells us both the real life story of
surfing’s rise and who the real Gidget was.
Kathy Kohner decided to surf and when her father’s book that exaggerated some
items about this new kind of living surfaced, it was a hit and led to a series
of feature films and a few TV shows (plus an animated TV special) about that
girl midget, Gidget. First played by Sandra
Dee and later on TV by an unknown Sally Field, Columbia Pictures and Screen
Gems helped spawn what became the subgenre of the beach movie and this culture
would rise in the late 1950s to be followed by it permanent place as part of
1960s culture and beyond. This Brian G.
Gillogly-directed piece (which he also wrote and co-produced) is thorough for
the hour it takes to tell its story with great stills and clips throughout,
though I wish this was longer because there might be a bit more to say.
among the many interviewees who also include major landmark figures in all of
surfing and it connections to so much of that world including films like
Endless Summer (see our Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site) and Grant
Rohloff, one of the most prolific filmmakers of the sport in its early years,
starting in 1958 (he did 12 in all) as noted in one of the extras. But the rise of Gidget takes center stage
over and over, but since this is also biography, I should note it is not a
documentary on the history of the franchise.
Accidental Icon finally shows
how it helped make women the equal of men in the world of surfing all because a
single girl just wanted to have some fun… in the sun. Extras include three mini clips on the story
and an extended ending that should have remained on the final cut of the
decades later, we have a cycle of surfing drams, especially female centered and
mostly lame. Blue Crush was the most commercially successful and there have been
many imitators cine, but David Mueller’s Beautiful
Wave (2010) is one of the most boring, flattest and any ideas of idealized
dreams of beach, surfing and the good life goes down the drain with each scene
in this really poor production.
Teegarden (from lame features like Scream
4 and Prom) trying to get over
her father’s death, so when she leaves New York for California to be with her
Grandmother, more ugly news comes her way (no, not the script for this either)
and she makes new friends and this includes surfing. Though there is a sincere effort to make this
work and the actors are trying, the actors also look very, very bored all the
way to the cover art. Patricia
Richardson and Lance Henriksen (of Aliens
and the TV hit Millennium, making
wonder if this would have been better if a serial killer or killer alien showed
up!) cannot save this either.
matter of fact, it collapses embarrassingly into clichés and to be honest, I
have never seen anything at a beach like this (Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly does not count) come across as so joyless, flat,
dull and boring. With all the sun and
fun, why are these people looking nearly clinically depressed? Do people really talk like this anywhere? No.
Could this be more unmemorable?
Barely. Like Prom, this is made for an imaginary audience of teens and pre-teens
(and tweens, if you must) who do not exist and someone needs to tell the makers
that the 1980s are long over, because the ideology of this wreck is partly out
of that relic of thinking. Tellingly,
there are no extras.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Icon
is mixed as you would expect for a documentary, but it can be colorful and the
clips (especially from the Columbia archive for Gidget film and TV projects)
are in much better shape than expected, yet there are still older film and
analog video clips that show their age and you also get softness, aliasing
errors and other flaws. The 1080p 1.78 X
1 digital High Definition image on Wave
should be much better, but this is not only actually styled down in the dumbest
way possible, but has its share of motion blur, detail issues, color limits and
manages to denature the sights and sounds of the water and beach to its
detriment. This should have been a
winner on Blu-ray, but I know of HD-shot beach footage on travelogue discs that
look far better, not to mention the best-condition beach footage on the Icon DVD.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Icon is
a mix of mono and stereo sources, including some location audio with issues and
some older mono with compression, yet it is well edited and just fine for a
documentary. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on
Wave should have also been much
better and even a sonic winner, but the mix itself is too limited to the front
channels and dialogue too much in the center channel for its own good. The result is, with its HD image added, like
a bad TV movie someone just threw together.
- Nicholas Sheffo