As bubbly-gummy and forgettable as a Katy Perry pop confection, and just as forgettable, “SPF-18” is one of those high-gloss “When you grow up in L.A.” summer teen comedies that bear about as much resemblance to real life as oh, “Grease.”
Beautiful young people, perfectly coiffed, not famous yet, pining over one another, idling away the days in glittering wardrobe changes in between strolls on the beach at Malibu and glimpses of their away-from-LA college futures, and prom night virginity loss
“Why does my first time have to be on prom, anyway?”
Penny (Carson Meyer) is the well-heeled daughter of a “kind of famous” actress. That would be soap actress Linda Cooper (Molly Ringwald), whose “raging self-absorption” comes with the job. Vampy, over-sexed cousin Camilla (Bianca A. Santos) is Penny’s BFF, and her guide to the whole losing your virginity thing.
“So, you do a lot of rolling around?”
Penny’s boyfriend is hunky Johnny (Noah Centineo) who lost his dad in a surfing accident, drives his dad’s motorcycle and has been invited to house-sit his Malibu mansion by dad’s surfing pal Keanu Reeves. Not if Mom (Rosanna Arquette) has anything to say about it. She doesn’t.
They’re what passes for working class out there.
“Somebody call a doctor? Cuz this house is SICK!”
Ash (Jackson Baker) is an aspiring singer-songwriter from Nashville. He shows up to skinny dip in the surf behind Keanu’s house. And camp and play the sax in his tent.
“Where did YOU come from?”
Camilla’s little affluent LA-isms about “state property” and the poor but pretty (and thus entitled, like her), “lucid dreaming” and the “awareness” she substitutes for religion (Ash is Christian) have a hint of vapid Brett Easton Ellis about them. As does the whole air of aspirational affluence and beautiful young people spending money. Ellis is pals with the “director.”
“Your dad taught me that surfing’s like making love. Feels good no matter how you do it.”
Goldie Hawn narrates the damned thing, incessantly. Maybe she’s here to speed things along, “Gold-spain” the simpler-than-simplistic script to the target audience and add gravitas. “SPF” is 75 minute movie that grinds its gears, scene after scene after scene.
Everybody’s just colorless and bland and “nice.” Conflict? Dispensed with entirely, even a potential love triangle is wiped away in some irrational fear of “drama.”
The acting is pretty bad across the board, though Ms. Meyer stands out with her bloodless line readings underneath voluminous hair — “My God, are you bleeding?”
There are cameos from Keanu and “Was that Pamela Anderson?” “Welcome to Malibu!”
And I dare not quote any more dialogue from this lest my computer explode in protest.
Lots of swimsuit scenes, montages set to “Video Kill the Radio Star,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Pop Goes the World,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” and “Magic” by the Cars.
With the cameos (Ringwald and Arquette included), lush locations and music clearance fees he got his backers to shell out for, LA painter and Ellis pal turned director/co-writer (LOL) Alex Israel plainly has more access to money than talent.
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sexual material, nudity, language and some drug references
Cast: Carson Meyer, Noah Centineo, Bianca A. Santos, Jackson White, Sean Russell Herman, Molly Ringwald, Rosanna Arquette, narrated by Goldie Hawn
Credits:Directed by Alex Israel, script by Michael Berk. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:15