A Predictable, Unoriginal Teen Drama
Acting as the spiritual prequel to the upcoming series of the same name in June, Malibu Rescue is a formulaic, unoriginal dip into the world of teen family dramas. Complete with one-dimensional characters and a predictable storyline, Malibu Rescue squanders its potential with a lacklustre film that fails to really nail any sort of hype for the series to come.
At the heart of this one is Tyler, whose troubled school life sees him forced to spend the Summer at Malibu Beach as an aspiring young lifeguard. Unfortunately, things aren’t smooth sailing and when he gets there, he’s met with hostility every step of the way. After the initial conflict sees him give up and return home, through the power of friendship and improving his own outlook on life, Tyler finds solace in a tightknit group of misfits and they work together to try and make a name for themselves as lifeguards. It’s all very typical underdog territory and Malibu Rescue revels in the obviousness of its cliches.
Much like other kid-orientated films of this type, there’s a contrived, slapstick humour central to the core of this film and while there are moments that hit, this is far more miss a lot of the time. Seeing our troubled teen protagonist’s Mum doing click-bait online videos and getting in with the YouTube crowd fails to really inspire the right level of humour while the plethora of toilet jokes and physical humour feel contrived and over-done at times.
The film is armed with an eclectic pop-orientated soundtrack though, complete with chart hits and catchy pop tunes that are sure to appeal to teens. While the camera work and editing aren’t anything really write home about, there are a few nice establishing shots and expository text segments that help the film stand out. The sun-kissed beach is certainly a pleasant setting to hold this story in too but I just wish the film had taken a few chances with its story.
Having said all that, we’ve seen plenty of family films and shows over the years stand the test of time with similar styles of humour. It’s a shame then that Malibu Rescue clings so closely to its formulaic story that it fails to really carve itself a unique slice of the pie. What we’re left with is an overly familiar, by-the-numbers family film that fails to differentiate itself from the pack. Perhaps the TV series may dive deeper into the characters and give us some much needed depth but as a 70 minute film, Malibu Rescue doesn’t do much to instill faith in the franchise. A shame for sure, but Malibu Rescue is one film that’s unlikely to be rescued anytime soon.