Yes, that’s right. I’m a 40-year-old woman who loves sushi, craft beer, the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austen, and Teen Beach Movie. And when I found out that Teen Beach 2 debuts tonight, I was mortifyingly something akin to…giddy.
We came late to the Teen Beach Movie craze in my house, seeing as how we lack a crucial element: a tween girl. When TBM debuted in July of 2013, I had three sons and a toddler baby girl. My boys noted the movie; I think they might have even watched it with some interest. But it wasn’t until last summer, when I bought the DVD for our summer road trip entertainment, that we really got to know it well.
And know it well, we do. I confess I haven’t actually ever seen the movie from start to finish with my actual eyes. But I have heard it, from opening credits to closing scene, approximately 4,356 times as it played on the DVD screen behind my head while I drove through the mountains of western North Carolina last summer. By the end of the summer, my then-2-year-old daughter insisted we call her by the name “Mac,” and I knew every word to every song and could sing duets with my 10-year-old son.
It’s been helpful to have this intimate knowledge of tween culture. For instance, I now have something to contribute when my tween girl mom friends bemoan their latest impending meet-and-greets at R5 concerts. I can totally talk about Ross Lynch and his affable surfer-boy-next-doorness with authority. I confess I even like a few of his non-TBM songs. What? I can hang with the kids. Don’t hate.
But mostly, what I love about Teen Beach Movie—and what I hope to also love about the sequel debuting tonight on the Disney Channel—is that it reminds me of a much more innocent version of Grease, a movie my mom toted me to in the theaters about nine times when I was 5 years old. I watched an edited-for-TV tape of Grease obsessively throughout my childhood on our then-hi-tech VHS player, and I played the vinyl record of the soundtrack on my Fisher-Price record player until I knew every word, even if I didn’t actually understand what those words meant (and thank goodness for that). I’m sure the producers of TBM were aiming right for my “Hopelessly Devoted” heart when they created TBM, knowing I would appreciate this kind of entertainment for my kids.
And they were right. Like Grease, Teen Beach Movie is pure, unadulterated cheese. There are some clever lyrics, some cute kids and a little winking at the ridiculousness of the movie musical, and I love every minute of it. In a tween world that is largely sarcastic and precocious, these movies are just one big chance not to be jaded. They are both modern enough and familiar enough—with their nods to the actual teen beach movies of decades past and the blatant references to West Side Story—to appeal to both my children and to me (and even my mom). They’re just fun.
So tonight you will find me living the 40-year-old-mom dream: snuggled up on my sofa in my jammies with my children around me, eyes glued to the screen, ready for the next installment of what will surely become part of my family’s summer soundtrack. We don’t get a whole lot of moments like this, and I am not going to pretend there won’t be people elbowing others or yelling over who gets to sit where or who gets to hold the popcorn, because of course there will be. But I’m excited anyway. Until then, I’ll be belting this out, completely off-key, because it’s my favorite. Warning: You won’t be able to stop singing it either.