Side Out (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Oh, my, what a dreadful and pointless film.

A midwesterner (C. Thomas Ponyboy Soul Man) goes to California in the summer after his junior year of college to earn some tuition working for the law firm of his sleazebag rich uncle. While he is there, he becomes interested in 2x2 volleyball, and ends up paired with a guy he was supposed to evict. Luckily for him, he was supposed to evict the King of the Beach. There are a few plot twists, but all of them are secondary to the meat of the film, which is volleyball, lightly salted with romance. 

Billed as the first major studio film devoted to the subject of beach volleyball, it actually used real beach players (like Randy Stoklos, Sinjin Smith, and Mike Dodd) as characters in the film. 

I wouldn't be surprised if Miller Lite and Jose Cuervo actually financed this film, because I suppose they control the players' contracts (about 20 of the tour players appeared in the film), and their product placements were everywhere in this film.


Harley Jane Kozak exposed a nipple briefly in a love scene with Horton.  Thorne-Smith was no more exposed than a rather modest bikini.
As marketing experiments go, it wasn't very successful.

In order to show actors playing successfully against pros, the director had to rely on lots of close-ups of spikes, so the audience can't see the difference in talent. Unfortunately, that also means the audience doesn't get a feel for the flow of 2x2 volleyball, which is a great game. 

And then there is the cast. I guess you can imagine how poorly Stoklos read his lines, but the real actors in the film weren't that much better. A list including Soul Man, supermodel Kathy Ireland, and that blond guy who looks exactly like Bjorn Borg  (Peter Horton is his name) will give you a representative sampling. The best actor in the film was that guy who played Bernie the Dead Guy, and even his performance was somewhat hamstrung by the fact that he wasn't dead.

DVD info from Amazon

widescreen anamorphic

Of course, I don't know why I'm whining about the acting. If it had been acted by the Royal Shakespeare Company, it still would have stunk. If Kenneth Branagh could play volleyball like Karch Karaly, his presence would still not make this watchable.

Let's just say that future plans for the micro-genre of beach volleyball movies are not expected to require any massive hiring of personnel in the studios. Don't look for "Side Out 2, the wrath of Sinjin".

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 1.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.4 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, it's a D. I didn't even like it, and I'm a fanatic for 2x2 volleyball. You can imagine how bad it might be if you don't like the sport.

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