Saturday, June 13, 2009

I really need to see those "Tammy" movies in their entirety

Occasionally, I find myself a bit bored and desirous of some nice background noise while I read one of the million books on my bookshelf that haven't been read yet. So I found myself yesterday.

I looked over my DVDs to see what would be a proper "don't really have to pay attention" light and sound show (we don't have cable, and the VCR is on the fritz), and my eyes alighted on a recent addition to the collection, thanks to the Manfriend's mom.

Gidget, starring Miss Sandra Dee.

Now, up to this point, my exposure to Sandra Dee was limited to twenty minutes of Tammy and the Doctor and Rizzo's "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee!" in Grease. I suppose I could have caught Beyond the Sea, about her marriage to Bobby Darin, but my knee-jerk distaste for Kate Bosworth nipped that one in the bud. However, I do feel that being familiar with the lyrics to "Look at Me..." is a fantastic introduction to this film.

"Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee
Lousy with virginity"

Amazingly, the entirety of Gidget is an examination of this barely seventeen year-old's struggle with overcoming her tom boyish nature and the pressure to "become a woman." The inuendo is almost too much for me to handle.

From the start of the film, a good chunk of the screen time is dedicated to snaring 30-something year-old overly-tanned fellows who much prefer the company of their equally tanned surfer buddies lazing on the beach than the females skipping and bouncing through the sand. Flat-chested Gidget is coaxed by her middle-aged friends to put down the books and the cello and come out to "the manhunt." Whoo boy. From those first few scenes, I knew that I was in for a real cinematic treat. These friends, with boobs out to the moon and one sporting a giant granny-panty white bikini bottom (only technically a bikini because it's not connected to the top piece an inch and a half above it), are so busy trying to attract the attention of the sexist horndog surfer dudes (who are actually really engrossed in their bromances, and only take a break to whistle and hoot at some passing babes, you know, just so we know they're not gay) that they don't actually enjoy being at the beach AT ALL. When their cleverly masked ploys for attention fail, they leave in a huff, because clearly there isn't anything better to do at the beach than have a guy oggle your goods.

Thankfully, Gidget, at the time known as Francie, is determined to have fun rather than manhunt and goes snorkeling. However, despite growing up in California, she's an appalling swimmer, a fact that is demonstrated more than once. Maybe it's her teeny frame (and jeez, it's itsy bitsy, one wonders if Sandra's anorexia was in full swing at this point), but it turns out that kelp is her mortal enemy. So of course, like a GIRL, she ends up distressed and has to be rescued by one of the not-a-gay surfers, Moondoggie. Yeah. You read that right.

She of course falls for her rescuer, as well as becoming addicted to the adrenaline rush from the slow, small-waved surf back to the shore. What better way to spend her summer than combine two of her new favorite things--currying favor with "Girls are icky" Moondoggie and joining the guys gang of surfers?

Oh lord a' mercy, so it begins. The film is chock full of indirect references to Gidget's virginity and lack of woman-hood ("Gidget" is her surfer nickname, a mash-up of "girl" and "midget") and the uncomfortable half-hearted advances of the surfer dudes, who all look to be thirty and up, despite claims of being college-aged. Gidget's parents are blissfully ignorant of their young daughter gallivanting around with middle-aged beach bums, and any argument they have between themselves is immediately apologized for and ends in hugs. Even when she's dragged in by the police for breaking curfew (I know, what the hell 1950's?), her parents are just oh so happy that she's safe and sound. The best part, and by best I mean most cringingly uncomfortable, is when in an effort to make Moondoggie jealous, Gidget invites herself into Kahuna's shack o'love and offers up her maidenhead to the scruffy, greasy, sweaty Korean War vet. I guess all that staying out past curfew at a beach make-out party and drinking beer was enough to make her say "Fuck it, I wanna get laid!"

Kahuna, of course, reminding himself of the statutory rape laws, kicks her out before they can do the nasty, but not before some creepy whispering and caressing. With a bruised ego, Gidget flees into the night, gets a flat tire, and is interrogated by the cops who pull over. Despite the reputation-tarnishing evening, all is forgiven, the only consequence is that her father is really going to push that date with his colleague's son. SPOILER ALERT: turns out his colleague's son is Moondoggie!

Everything ends well: Kahuna gives up being a beach bum and gets a real job, Moondoggie goes back to college, and Gidget gets Moondoggie's pin! Oh rapture! Though I'm still trying to figure out how you go from an overly-candid conversation (for the 50s) with your mom about wanting to lose your virginity to losing your shit over being pinned.

I'm convinced that this movie makes for a fantastic drinking game, the rules for which I have just made up:

Drink any time...
  • there is a thinly-veiled reference to Gidget's virginity or lack of boobage
  • Kahuna's facial hair looks like a greasy smear, and not stubble
  • a surfer dude does or says something incredibly sexist
  • Moondoggie inexplicably breaks into song
  • the surfer dudes are more interested in their bromance than much else
  • the word "manhunt" is used
  • Gidget puts on a fluffy cardigan
  • Kahuna is not wearing shoes
  • Kahuna shows up in an unbuttoned shirt with torn sleeves
  • a fight with Gidget's parents is amicably resolved
  • Gidget's parents are far too understanding
  • dykey-McShorthair shows up and really has little purpose in the scene
  • there are greenscreened surf scenes
  • Gidget fiddles with her hair

Warning: you may get alcohol poisoning.


  1. Interesting. So are the middle-aged "manhunt" ladies possibly modeled after middle-aged drag queens, or dandies?

    -the hoov

  2. I don't think they were wearing enough makeup to be drag queens, but more along the lines of those brassy-voiced nasally chicks from B-grade horror films. You should watch it and tell me what you think!

  3. Have you ever seen a movie called 'Psycho Beach Party'? I saw it on stage a few years ago and then I saw the movie on the logo channel later. It's a parody of gidget (the main character is "chicklet" and she has multiple personalities. I think you'd enjoy it!