The Beach Boys Image

The Beach Boys

By Alan Ng | May 24, 2024

NOW ON DISNEY+! Prolific super producer Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny direct The Beach Boys, the definitive documentary about arguably one of the greatest bands in rock history (I’m going to get murdered for this statement). The film is dense with Beach Boys lore. As such, fans will be pleased, but what about those who don’t know every word to every song they made?

It all began with brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. They were all high school teens, but what set them apart from every band was their insane harmonies, which would become a trademark of the band. It was not just that they could sing in harmony, but the way the boys were able to blend their voices together. Brian Wilson was the creative genius behind the band, at least musically. He did the music, and Mike Love did the lyrics. The band was managed by the boys’ father, Murray Wilson, who once had a career in music and ruled the band with an iron fist. With an investment from Jardine’s mother, the boys cut their first demo, and the rest is history.

The Beach Boys gets pretty detailed about the band’s career, starting instantly with Brian’s resistance to touring and a revolving door of singers/musicians who stood in for Brian. As the boys toured, Brian was home creating masterpieces, reaching new heights with the classic Pet Sounds. That classic album was such a big deal that after The Beatles got an early sneak of Pet Sounds, the foursome went right into the studio to record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“…the definitive documentary about arguably one of the greatest bands in rock history.”

It’s here where most documentaries about The Beach Boys would begin to focus on Brian’s mental breakdown after his father sold the band’s publishing rights right from under his nose. But not this film. Marshall and Zimny keep things going when the split occurs between Brian and the band. We see how they tried to reinvent themselves without their creative leader.

I love Brian Wilson. He’s a genius, but I’m glad to see a Beach Boys documentary that is not all about Brian Wilson. Throughout The Beach Boys, each band member gets their time to shine. Plus, no controversy goes undressed, including Mike Love suing the band for writing credit and compensation for the song he co-wrote with Brian. The Charlie Manson story is a new one to me.

There are a lot of good gets here. All of the surviving members (Brian, Mike, and Al) appear, along with every member who joined after. Each gets their chance to tell their story — the good, the bad, and the brutally honest. Also giving testimony is a long list of rock legends past and present, including Dan Was, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Randi, Janelle Monáe, and Blondie Chaplin. Any fan of The Beach Boys will delight in the stories being recounted. There’s enough new material to supplement all that footage we’ve seen before. The filmmakers make the wise decision to tell the story in order, yet if I had my druthers, maybe one song could be sung to completion. All of our favorite music goes by fast.

I’ve complained a lot about Disney and Disney+ content, but one thing Disney+ is doing right is documentaries. I’m particularly excited about the upcoming Jim Henson: Idea ManThe Beach Boys has everything you’d want in a music documentary: a compelling story behind the nostalgia, the main figures being open and honest about the rise and fall, interesting conversations, and great music.

The Beach Boys (2024)

Directed: Frank Marshall, Thom Zimny

Written: Mark Monroe

Starring: The Beach Boys, Dan Was, Ryan Tedder, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Randi, Janelle Monáe, Blondie Chaplin, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Beach Boys Image

"…glad to see a Beach Boys documentary that is not all about Brian Wilson."

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  1. Joe Kanuck says:

    Holy crap. You are bang on with this review, Al. I was never much more than a casual Beach Boys fan. I grew up in the 60’s but never got into music until after the Beach Boys era was pretty much over. But man…this doc was fascinating. So bloody well done. I hate to do it but Disney knocked this one out of the park.

    Now why the hell can’t they put that much care and love into everything else?

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