Spring Break (1983) – A Review

Spring Break 1983 movie poster

“I still don’t know where my underpants are.”
“Why? What happened to ’em?”
“I think they ate ’em.”

Wet t-shirt contests. Belly flopping contests. Drinking. Drugs. Bar fights. A Teeny-Weenie Bikini Contest. The Banana Eating Extravaganza.

The Teen/Sex/Comedy genre doesn’t get much more stripped down and bare boned than this. It’s like if you were to really cater to your target audience, decide to feature as many wild party-ish events that you could think up, string them all together, come up with a story in a minute and toss it in – you could possibly come up with something like Spring Break.

Spring Break was a pretty big hit when it was first released in 1983 earning $24 million bucks. It did better business than A Christmas Story – a bit of irony I always found pretty amusing. The budget for this couldn’t have been much, so when the bucks started rolling in Columbia Pictures must of been awfully happy. Plus, it got to use a monumental, instantly identifiable title for a Teen Sex Comedy that would automatically tell you what this flick was going to give you. And the young audience at the time made a run to the theaters, bought their tickets and revelled in it.

Spring Break movie cast
The cast of Spring Break

Nelson (David Knell) and Adam (Perry Lang) arrive in Fort Lauderdale for spring break. They’re ready for some good times. Unfortunately, they’re both kind of nerdy and don’t look like they’ll be fitting in with the party atmosphere too easily. Their luck changes when a shortage of hotel rooms force hard partying New Yorkers Stu (Paul Land) and O.T. (Steve Bassett) to bunk alongside them. Gradually a group friendship grows out of this odd foursome and the quiet Nelson and Adam are being shown all the hot spots in town, trying to keep up with drinking massive amounts of beer with their new friends, letting loose their inner-outrageousness and soon they’re scoring with some very hot babes too!

However, a problem threatens the boys good times when Nelson’s stepfather, who’s this nasty old politician, gets wind of his stepson running around. This embarrassing news could scare away potential voters for his old man! So he has his political henchman track Nelson down and bring him back so he can be locked up on the family yacht and not engage in any more bad behavior. If that’s not bad enough the hotel where the boys are staying at and are having such a great time at is in danger of being bought out by, who would have guessed it – Nelson’s stepfather! What a completely unexpected coincidence.

All this comes down to a battle between the spring break partiers and the older authority figure. Who will triumph? Is the party about to come to an end at Spring Break?

Spring Break wet t shirt contest
Babes taking the stage

Spring Break is something of a strange movie for me to review. With this sporadic examination of 80’s Teen/Sex/Comedies I do every now and then there’s become a familiarity to what a fan of those films were expecting to get from them. The bar is not set very high with this kind of stuff. And Spring Break does essentially give its audience exactly what they probably wanted. It doesn’t have any kind of lofty ambitions at all! Silly party scenes. Hot girls walking around. Drunken antics. Young guys making idiots of themselves. Some 80’s music popping up on the soundtrack. Yep, it’s got all that, so it should satisfy that most basic hunger fans get from these movies.

It’s also got so much little else in it I’d almost say it’s barely a movie. It’s like a series of scenes that seem to be there to check off the needed stuff one needs to see in a movie called Spring Break. Then once they checked them off, the movie didn’t know what else to do so it just goes back and re-checks them again! It’s as if they made this wonderful looking Teen/Sex/Comedy cake and the only ingredient that makes it up is sugar! There’s no other tastes or textures added to this cake before they cooked it and served it up.

So it may be a successful Teen/Sex/Comedy for fans, but for me this is a movie that gets old awfully fast. Sorry I need a little bit more variety or at least a more creative presentation of it all. Come on try to dress things up a bit! Director Sean S. Cunningham (who previously directed the first Friday the 13th) doesn’t do much to help things move along. It’s basically a point and shoot kind of production with no real finesse to anything.

Spring Break bikini contest
A strangely quaint bikini contest

After their first meeting, the four new pals attend a belly-flopping competition. Which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. One after another guys do belly flops in a pool. O.T. establishes himself as the ‘wild member’ of the group when rather than risk losing the contest – to a young Jeff Garlin no less – he scales a palm tree and does a mammoth belly flop to win the contest.

I’m not sure if we’re meant to find this hysterical or what. His high belly flop splash doesn’t even look any different from any one else’s….I’m not even sure if he wins anything….other than bragging rights. So I don’t know what we’re supposed to take away from any of this. I guess just the fun and wild atmosphere the guys are in. We are now in a world where making the biggest splash in a pool is something to aspire to.

This kind of ‘candid’ watching of spring break antics continue as we watch the guys cruise the strip. That’s all they do. They cruise, they point to stuff, signs pass by the screen, the guys laugh and we listen to a song on the soundtrack. It is extremely hokey. This is the kind of scene I would think locals living in the area at the time the film was made would find interesting. They’ll see a sign for a place that has long ago been demolished and they’ll reflect back and say, “hey, remember that place!”

Watching silly events are the main focus in the movie

These little ‘adventures’ the guys go on –  going to the beach or going to a bar or a wet t-shirt contest – there’s really no comedic payoffs to them.

And the gags that do result aren’t all that funny. It’s just the guys get there and they look at bikini babes or watch a hot chick sing a song or they get to pour water on chicks in t-shirts and that’s it. And these are not little short scenes. So a lot of this movie is just watching random party stuff. The film continues this free-wheeling, pointless vignette pattern until the abrupt interruption of the droplet of a plot towards the end.

I would get so used to the pointless pattern of the movie that when during the big wet t-shirt contest scene (which morphs into a ‘he-shirt’ contest and then some kind of banana eating contest) that when some actual story elements started to creep in I could’t help but roll my eyes at their clunky inclusion into the proceedings.

Those henchmen are sniffing around the streets of Fort Lauderdale for Nelson and they’re getting awfully close to catching up to him. Meanwhile Nelson meets his romantic interest in the movie and they bat eyes over some game playing of Galaga. So, you see there is a bit of story here and there.

Corinne Alphen sexy bikini Spring Break
Corinne Alphen looking ravishing

Wild man O.T. meets a gorgeous singer, punches out a guy who is rude to her and hooks up with her. Joan who’s credited as Corinne Alphen here was a popular Penthouse Pet in the late 70’s/early 80’s. She would also go on to be Mrs. Ken Wahl. And she looks amazing here. It’s hard to bother caring about anything else going on when she’s onscreen. There are plenty of chicks running around in this movie, but most are nameless and/or forgettable. Corinne is the real standout. And she barely gets any screentime other than lip-synching to the song ‘Do It To You’ in a spandex outfit. It’s one of the more memorable scenes in the movie for obvious reasons.

The other guys get their share of babes too. Adam manages to shake loose his virginity and that easily closes his storyline. And Stu…..he still gets lots of chicks. This is all minor story stuff since the focus shift to Nelson and his stepfather and the closing of the hotel.

Things culminate with the boys helping Nelson escape being imprisoned on his step-father’s yacht. No real laughs can be found there. Then everything arrives at a climax which brings it all to a clean and brisk conclusion. Now that Nelson is backed up and supported by his three buddies, his new gal and the rest of the hotel residents they join forces to de-pants his stepfathers henchmen, throw pies at them and toss them in a pool. What a triumphant moment.

It’s all complete silliness and no one cares about this ‘story’ part of the movie anyway. And even if you were one of the few who were hoping for some more story, it’s is so poorly done with no comedic payoffs you’ll probably feel they would have been better off skipping it all and had just given the extra time to Corinne lip-synching to a few more songs.

girl band Corinne Alphen Wahl Spring Break
The always welcome inclusion of –
an 80’s all-girl band

There are some fans who really love Spring Break and would hoist it high up into the Teen/Sex/Comedy ranks. Hey, why not. It was made during the height of the genre. It’s about spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, a legendary time and place for wild youth. But it’s always been a film I felt pretty cool towards.

For one thing the fun on display here feels somewhat boring. Every subsequent event the guys go to gets more and more tedious for me. At least the way it’s all presented here. It’s mainly stupid antics and contests on stages. I don’t know what all the hooting and hollering is about. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy.

This stuff could have been more fun – and here I think is why I never really cared for this movie – if the four actors we hang out with were more likable and engaging and had more chemistry between each other. The four leads don’t leave much of an impression and none of them are really that funny either. That can be a real detriment to a comedy you know.

None of them even assume the clichéd roles one might expect to find in one of these movies – the geek, the rich kid, the party animal, the ladies man. And those stereotypical aspects each guy does have are so thinly drawn none of them really sticks to them and they all end up rather blah.

Each pair of these spring breakers end up completely interchangeable from the other. They should have been made to wear nametags. Even our ‘party guy’ O.T. loses his animal edge once he hooks up with Corinne and he becomes just another one of the guys. So it’s just watching a bunch of characterless guys going to the beach.

Nelson lost in the elevator

David Knell comes the closet out of anyone in the laughs department. He gets the actual funniest scene in the movie. The simple premise involves him, a seemingly guaranteed romantic night with Susie (Jayne Modean), him innocently leaving her room to buy some Cokes and then the realization of this being a huge hotel and he has no idea what room she’s in. Anyone who has seen Spring Break will remember the scene.

It’s such a seemingly simple and frustratingly believable scene. I can completely buy it and Knell running around frantic from floor to floor with 38 Special on the soundtrack makes it one of the best and often remembered scenes out of the entire movie. See, no boobs required for that this time!

He gets one brief scene trying to awkwardly buy some pot. And that’s another thing, the supporting actors and the strange encounters the guys happen upon on their spring break adventure don’t result in any funny characters or scenes. Spring break in Ft. Lauderdale is loaded with some awfully boring people!

Spring Break movie 1983
It all sounds more fun than it actually is

So there’s really not much to say about this flick. It plays like a precursor to one of those Girls Gone Wild videos and it targets those who wanted exactly that in 1983. Back then there really wasn’t anywhere else you could go to watch this kind of adolescent-partying nonsense but the movies. So come on kids let’s have fun. It gets pretty tiresome after awhile and I wish I had been tagging along with some more fun people the whole time.

Watching all these stupid stagey spring break ‘events’ in the movie made me start to wonder if this was indeed an accurate reflection of spring break in Ft. Lauderdale in the 70’s and early 80’s.

Instead of watching this movie restage a captivating belly-flopping contest, I think I would have found it more interesting to see a documentary interviewing real people who actually spent time in Ft. Lauderdale during spring break and experienced this stuff firsthand. Have a bunch of aged and pudgy individuals reflect back on the good times. To get to hear their no-holds-barred personal accounts, recollections and memories of what the real wild spring break was like back in the day.

I think that could have been more interesting than watching this movie. I’m sure times have changed an awful lot. I’ve even heard years ago Ft. Lauderdale discouraged the madness that once was the famed spring break there and the annual party has become almost non-existent there today.

So yeah, I guess Spring Break is something of a forgettable bust for me. None of the characters are anything special. The adolescent laughs don’t materialize no matter how many different places the group visits. There’s really not a lot of variety from one place to another anyway. The guys don’t even encounter any strange and goofy supporting characters that yield anything memorable. And the actual amount of boobs one might expect to see in a movie called Spring Break is actually quite miniscule – that’s even counting the wet t-shirts.

Corinne Alphen Wise Spring Break

The two best parts of the film is the ‘getting lost in the hotel’ scene and Alphen getting some screen time and looking unbelievably sexy. Unfortunately she remains clothed throughout the movie though. Other than that there’s not much to recommend here. So despite it having a killer Teen/Sex/Comedy title and sounding like it will be an ultimate 80’s beach movie, along with having a pretty cool poster, fans would be better off getting their fix elsewhere.

 


AND CORINNE ALPHEN’S SCENE OF LIP-SYNCING ‘I WANNA DO IT TO YOU’
 



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2 Responses

  1. CKulik says:

    I'm sure you read my review over at DVD Verdict, and I'm not surprised to see we pretty much 100% agree on this flick. That being said, I did receive an email from David Knell himself, who complemented me on my writing and enjoyed the review, although he wasn't too sure about the claim I made about Tammy Lynn Leppert: although I visually identified her as the blonde boxer and I've read several sources saying she is the girl on the cover. Regardless, her mysterious disappearance has always fascinated me. 🙂

    • I read about the disappearance of Leppert after I watched Spring Break for this review. It was the first time I had learned about that. Very strange. I did see a lot of claims that she is indeed the body on the poster, but nothing definitive. I would think that would be something easy to confirm by someone associated with the studio or the marketing or something.

      That's very cool you heard from Knell! His scene running around in that hotel I still say is a high point in the movie.

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