Charming, colorful, and spirited are a few words I can apply to "Shag - The Movie." In case you're wondering, the title is referring to a style of dancing that was popular in southern U.S. beach communities during the late 1950's, and through the 1960's. "Shag" is the kind of movie in which the viewer may wish they were there; partaking in everything that's happening between old and new friends. Friendship is the basis of the movie, which is set in the summer of 1963. The main characters are four girls who have one final fling before they go their separate ways into adulthood. Carson (Phoebe Cates) is engaged to be married to an up-and-coming tobacco tycoon named Harley (Tyrone Power Jr.) Luanne (Page Hannah) is the daughter of a wealthy senator. Caroline (Annabeth Gish) goes by "Pudge" as a nickname. She has a reputation for being overweight even though she's turning into a slimmer young woman. Melaina (Bridget Fonda) is rebellious, and has a sexually liberated attitude. Four girls who are often as different as can be, but they're still the best of friends. Their friendship is sometimes tested when they reach the destination of their final fling: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Throughout the movie common teen subjects arise: Alcohol, sex, careers, future plans, dating, and marriage are some of the subjects discussed. Naturally guys come into play, and the characters of Buzz (Robert Rusler) and Chip (Scott Coffey) are introduced. Buzz is free-spirited and lively. Chip is a young man on his way to becoming a Marine. Along the way Carson and Buzz develop an attraction for each other, which threatens Carson's engagement to Harley. The relationship between Carson and Buzz grows, and soon Carson finds it difficult to stop herself from being drawn to him. Eventually Harley shows up in Myrtle Beach, which creates some surprises for everyone. Luanne and Harley have a respect for each other, but there also seems to be a hint of a mutual interest between them. Pudge and Chip hit it off, and plan to enter the shag dance contest. Their growing relationship is interesting, because it's not immediately known if Chip likes Pudge as much as she likes him. The character of Melaina goes through a few phases, but her main goal is to nab a career in Hollywood. Cliff-hangers seem to be common throughout "Shag - The Movie": Will Carson break off her engagement to Harley, and find love with Buzz? Would a break-up lead Harley to Luanne? Will Pudge and Chip find they love each other, and will they still be in the shag contest? Will Melaina be discovered, and be on her way to Hollywood? Will the parents find out the girls lied by going to Myrtle Beach instead of going on an educational tour? Obviously these are answered by the film's end, but along the way there are fun times to be had! One big party, meeting a teen idol, a beauty contest, and the shag contest provide lots of fun. Tender moments, competition, and conflicts keep the movie well grounded. The summer of 1963 is re-created with amusement park rides, jukeboxes, carhops, vintage cars, and music. The soundtrack is made of new versions of songs that had been hits in that era, and also original vintage oldies. The soundtrack also features new, original recordings, but they don't always have an authentic sound (this is the only negative comment I have on the entire movie.) Sets, props and locations fit well with the 1963 setting. The movie is well filmed, well scripted, and contains a lot of memorable dialogue. The humor is satisfying more on a delightful scale, and there doesn't seem to be an attempt at too many big laughs. In this case a more subtle style of humor works very well, and adds to the charm of the movie. The entire cast does a wonderful job! Each performance is well-crafted, and the cast is full of talent. The interactions of the actors and the chemistry between each character keep the movie fun and high-spirited. "Shag - The Movie" is a crowd pleaser for all audiences, and worth multiple viewings. Put on your shagging shoes, and enjoy a movie that really is the bee's knees!
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