Phat Beach (1996) – Review

1/2 Star

Hard to believe that the extremely talented Doug Ellin of Entourage fame, directed this nearly unwatchable low-brow comedy. Still, the picture received a theatrical release in the crowded month of August 1996. Most people who recall the film at all are likely to remember the prominent placement of rapper Coolio on the poster. The fact that he has under a minute of screen time and was used to sell the movie to audiences goes to show how desperate the producers were to recoup their investment. Phat Beach doesn’t have a point to its feeble tale and the plot jumps so much that 90 minutes ends up feeling a lot longer.

Benny (Jermaine Huggins) is an overweight teenager who wants to spend the summer at a writing program for aspiring poets. His over-bearing father insists that the chubby boy get a summer job at the local burger joint to build character. Everybody Benny comes in contact with makes fun of his weight or large appetite. Including his best friend Durrel (Brian Hooks), who comes up with a scheme to sell cheap sunglasses at the beach for profit. Overcome by peer pressure Benny quits his job and takes his father’s car to Venice beach. On the beachfront Benny and Durrell run into a number of obstacles that prevent the boys from making money or getting laid. A volleyball contest seems to be the only chance the boys have to win back enough cash to get out of debt and to gain the respect of Benny’s father.

Phat Beach arrived when the second wave of blaxploitation cinema arrived in the mid-nineties. Instead of violent one-man army movies that starred Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, or Pam Grier; audiences were given rapper/actors Ice Cube, Ice-T, and others. The “hood comedy” would remain a popular sub-genre for nearly a decade and a half before graduating into the classier setting of the Barbershop movies. Phat Beach consists of almost non-stop bickering between the two leads that is neither funny or entertaining. It’s an under-cooked film with flimsy premise and annoying performances.

Director: Doug Ellin
Stars: Jermaine Huggins, Brian Hooks, Gregg Vance

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