The Beach Boys (2024)

The Beach Boys (2024)

Though it could benefit from a more complex treatment, the latest documentary about the iconic American band is just as enjoyable and endearing as their music



United States of America
Documentary, Music
Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin, Brian Wilson
113 min


They might as well put color-coded lyrics in this documentary the way it doubles as a sing-along ( as a huge Beach Boys fan, I mean that as a compliment).

What it's about

Follows the ups and downs of The Beach Boys, the definitive California band that pioneered the deeply harmonious surf sound of the ‘60s, comprised of talented musicians who despite their sunny demeanor didn’t always get along.

The take

Contrary to the headline displayed on this film’s poster, Disney’s The Beach Boys isn’t a definitive guide to the band. Instead, it plays like a “greatest hits” album that goes through their famous ups and downs. Their steady rise among American teens and leader Brian Wilson’s pop music innovations are covered, as are the more dour moments of their career, like the relentless abuse they got from their manager (the Wilsons’ father Murry) and the disagreements between Brian and his cousin and co-writer Mike Love. But for better or worse, the documentary doesn’t go into too much detail about these high-profile feuds, focusing instead on the joy and brilliance of their era-defining music, which tends to get buried beneath all the drama anyway. Because of this sunny approach, the film sometimes fails to match the band’s complexity. But there’s no denying that it's just as enjoyable to watch as it is to listen to The Beach Boys' music.

What stands out

Their creative back-and-forths with The Beatles were unexpectedly fun to watch. There was a time when the two bands were equals racing to the top; of course, The Beatles went on to leave them for good, but boy did The Beach Boys put up a fight. Also, I’m ashamed to admit I was one of the ignorant fans who assumed Pet Sounds was influenced by Sgt. Pepper's—I was pleasantly shocked to find it was actually the opposite.


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