The lives of four young ladies are set to change forever over the course of a weekend in this 1960s set flick.
Spartanburg High School graduates Carson, Pudge, Melaina, and Luanne all come from different backgrounds but have been best friends for a long time. Carson is gearing up to marry Harley, the boring son of a local businessman. The girls are spending one final weekend together before they go their separate ways. What Carson doesn’t know is that her friends are planning to take her on a final wild weekend to Myrtle Beach, where they plan to just have fun and not stress out over their future plans.
Melaina dreams of stardom and despite having issues with two locals on her first night there, she learns of a beauty contest that she plans to win. Carson and Pudge meet two local boys, Buzz and Chip. Chip, who is heading to Annapolis after the weekend, begins to have a liking for Pudge while Buzz, despite knowing Carson is engaged, is determined to let her open her mind and enjoy the trip. When Harley learns the truth about Myrtle Beach, he intends to find Carson to ensure the wedding will still go on.
With the success of Dirty Dancing, it was inevitable that the nostalgic era dance film was about to come full swing and two years after that film became a surprise hit for Vestron Pictures, Hemdale decided to capitalize on the trend but highlighting the Carolina Shag, a major dance craze in the 1960s in the Southern U.S. and who better to choreograph the dance sequences than the very choreographer of the hit 1987 Vestron film?
The story of four friends having one last weekend together before moving on their post-high school lives is well performed by the ensemble cast. While each of our central ladies go through their own story, Phoebe Cates’ Carson starts out the most reserved but ends up the freest by the film’s end due to her growing bond and eventual relationship with Buzz, played by Robert Rusler. Buzz seems like the bad boy type, but deep down he’s someone who clearly sees a sign for help. Bridget Fonda’sw Melaina hopes to be a star as a means to escape the very bad home life she has, and she gets a taste of being bullied before trying to get a star to get her attention.
Page Hannah’s Luanne, the senator’s daughter, attempts to like the ringleader and is obsessed with the rules. However, the house party gives her a chance to show a side that she needs to let out. Even more, Luanne finds something more intriguing when it’s clear there is tension between her and Carson’s boorish fiancée Harley, played by Tyrone Power Jr. Finally, there’s Annabeth Gish’s Pudge, who was ridiculed for her weight, finds potential love with local boy Chip, who is Buzz’s best friend and sometimes his lackey, as it seems. It is Pudge and Chip whose dancing gives the film its title with the style of choreography.
Special mention has to go out to the late Carrie Hamilton and Leilani Sarelle as Nadine and Suette, two local Myrtle Beach girls who play the stereotypical Southern redneck bullies. Both have highlight scenes, Sarelle in the beauty contest and Hamilton during the final dance contest. Hamilton is more known for her singing talent, but here she does well with Kenny Ortega’s choreography. Gith and Coffey have such great chemistry as well when it comes to dancing as well. Their story is something of a gender reversal of Dirty Dancing, with Chip getting lessons from Pudge in the Carolina Shag.
Shag: The Movie seems to have been inspired by Dirty Dancing with its 1960s setting, in this case, Myrtle Beach, but a stellar ensemble cast and Kenny Ortega’s excellent choreography make this one underrated 80s film to check out.
WFG RATING: A
Hemdale Pictures present a Palace Pictures production. Director: Zelda Barron. Producers: Julia Chasman and Stephen Woolley. Writers: Robin Swicord, Lanier Laney, and Terry Sweeney. Cinematography: Peter MacDonald. Editing: Laurence Mery-Clark.
Cast: Phoebe Cates, Scott Coffey, Bridget fonda, Annabeth Gish, Page Hannah, Robert Rusler, Tyrone Power Jr., Jeff Yagher, Paul Lieber, Donald Craig, Shirley Anne Field, Leilani Sarelle, Carrie Hamilton, Jay Baker.