Blasts from the Past! Blu-ray Review: SHAG (1989)

This movie is currently available on Blu-ray from Olive Films (www.olivefilms.com – www.facebook.com/olivefilms).

Shag-blu-ray-coverNormally, when I’m taking a look at a new Blu-ray reissue of an older title, it involves revisiting a film that I haven’t seen since childhood. This is not the case with Shag, a comedy that I missed entirely during its original run… as well as during its VHS release and cable airings. For me, it’s always nice to find something new and unfamiliar from a bygone era. And when it features some recognizable cast members, that makes it all the more interesting.

Despite my ignorance, this film received good reviews during its original run and has developed a large following of enthusiasts who have found and appreciated the movie over the years. Olive Films have released a new Blu-ray of the title. It doesn’t feature a whole lot in the way of extras (just the theatrical trailer), but it does include a really stellar transfer of the feature.

MSDSHAG EC002Set in 1963, the story follows Carson (Phoebe Cates), a young southern woman who has just graduated from high school and is days away from getting married to her boyfriend, Harley (Tyrone Power Jr.). Knowing that the group will be going their separate ways for college and other life pursuits, her friends Melaina (Bridget Fonda), Pudge (Annabeth Gish) and Luanne (Page Hannah) plot to spend one final weekend together. Hopping in a car and driving to Myrtle Beach, the girls get themselves involved in all sorts of romances, rivalries and come to decisions about their future as they come of age.

Truthfully, there’s nothing about the story itself that is especially remarkable. You can pretty much predict where all of the plotlines are going early on and there aren’t a whole lot of surprises. All of the ladies have to deal with some kind of adversity over the course of the film. There are a couple of relationships that brew. Another subplot follows a rivalry between aspiring star Melaina and another local carried through a beauty contest that leads to some dirty tactics being employed. Still, the humor is all very subtle. But while it’s played in a low-key manner, the cast are all very likable.

M8DSHAG EC003The best elements are a slow blooming romance between Pudge and a kid named Chip (Scott Coffey). Their friendship and developing relationship is especially sweet and charming as the two move past their awkwardness with one another. It’s also amusing to watch all the characters start to express their individuality, yet still feel and act a bit prim and proper as a result of the social codes of the era. Of course, as the story progresses and they loosen up, their real feelings and personalities begin to show through.

The cast are also helped by some excellent background music from the early 60s (with a few sound-alike tunes from modern day artists being squeezed in for good measure). There’s almost always a catchy tune playing and the soundtrack includes the likes of Bob & Earl, The Drifters, Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson and many others.

M8DSHAG EC004But from my perspective, what really stands out is the exceptional production design and bright color scheme. The Myrtle Beach locations, including the Grand Strand and the sandy beach itself, consistently look impressive. The sets and clothing feel authentic, and the bright reds, yellows and green (as well as some neon lighting at a few locales) really pop off of the screen. This is a gorgeous looking film and the Blu-ray delivers an incredible image.

As mentioned, there isn’t anything revelatory story-wise here. However, Shag is a pleasant and likable film, the cast are really good and the look and the atmosphere and feel of the picture is absolutely perfect. For those who are a fan of the movie, this Blu-ray will certainly please.

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