Most nostalgia exercises carry an implicit aura of camp, but this beach-movie revival is as straightforward as it is gratifyingly sweet. The fresh-faced young cast -- especially frisky adventurer Bridget Fonda and repressed deb Phoebe Cates -- embody the hot-blooded youth of an earlier era with considerable panache. Meanwhile, director Zelda Barron keeps everyone marching at a brisk comedic pace. Script by committee isn't always a recipe for success, but the three-way collaboration on Shag yields a workable plot and plenty of laughs -- coupled with the faintest tinge of feminist hindsight and grown-up perspective. By the time Hairspray rolled around, gross-out satirist John Waters had become nothing but a slightly subversive family entertainer. Shag, Hairspray's contemporary both in release date and setting, seems almost as subversive in its unashamedly feel-good vision of the past.
by Brian J. Dillard review