A recycled teen movie that hits all the expected beats as artlessly as possible. Get in the sea.
The kindest thing I can see about Malibu Rescue is that it’s only an hour long. But it’s all downhill from there for Netflix’s new teen-focused beach movie, which recycles all the expected beats as shamelessly and artlessly as possible. As a prequel to an upcoming series, it’s a cynical move; as a film on its own terms, it’s dead in the water.
The plot follows teenage tearaway Tyler (Ricardo Hurtado), who enrolls in the Malibu Beach junior rescue training program at the behest of his step-father after getting into trouble at school one too many times. The training is supposed to straighten him out, which of course it will, but it won’t be that easy. After multiple attempts at self-sabotage that end up backfiring for his honest crew of misfits and his well-meaning airhead captain Dylan (Jackie R. Jacobson), he decides to knuckle down and make a point, if only to shut up the bro-tastic Brody (JT Neal) and his goons.
Tyler’s crew, The Flounders, are comprised of likable enough youngsters who’re nonetheless just bundles of played-out quirks: Gina (Breanna Yde) is a driven athlete; Eric (Alkoya Brunson) is generally useless but supportive; Lizzie (Abby Donnelly) is a borderline psychotic first aid expert. Together they’re a problem for the cartoonishly unpleasant head coach, who is prejudiced against kids from the Valley and has only allowed them on the team as part of an inclusion policy set by the mayor, who of course will be in attendance for the big finale.
Even at just an hour long, Malibu Rescue quickly outstays its welcome by stretching a two-minute premise into an entire movie and aping a whole host of movies that have done the same stuff much better. There’s probably a demographic this kind of thing will appeal to, and I’m certainly not a part of it, but even on those terms Malibu Rescue is a weak and derivative example of the teen movie that doesn’t sink or swim, just childishly blows bubbles in the water.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.