I have reviewed many of these Disney Channel Original Movies recently and sometimes I am surprised by how good or bad something is. We have had some highs, lows, in-betweens, and plenty of nostalgia. When looking at the Johnny Tsunami poster, I wasn’t expecting much.
A rough Photoshop job of a kid surfing in the snow. When I was finished, I was pleasantly surprised that Johnny Tsunami is one of the best DCOM films I have seen.
Johnny lives in Hawaii with his family and has become somewhat of a local celebrity. He has won plenty of surfing competitions. He owes his success to his grandfather. A surfing icon nicknamed Johnny Tsunami. Johnny has a complicated relationship with his father. His father wants Johnny to do something more with his life than surf or act like his grandfather. Because of this, the father moves his family to Vermont. No surfing in sight. Johnny soon tries to fit in in an awkward situation while attempting to figure out snowboarding.
Johnny Tsunami is definitely a fish out of water tale but is elevated by a good script and some clever ideas. There were so many times I thought I knew where the movie was going and suddenly I was very pleased and surprised.
In many of these types of movies, Johnny would complain about having to move and how it wasn’t fair. Instead, Johnny acts very maturely and accepts this without question. When Johnny is taught how to snowboard, in other movies he would become a professional real quickly. Instead, he never really gets that good. He stumbles down slopes for most of the film.
The amount of surfing scenes is pretty impressive as well. With that photoshopped cover, I expected some bad CGI. The movie relies on actual surfing scenes. Sure sometimes the body doubles can sometimes be pretty noticeable but I’d take that over really bad CGI any day.
The acting in this movie is pretty good. There are some cardboard cut-out bullies here and there and a very unnecessary love interest but everyone is good or at least passable.
Johnny is a likable lead and the conflict between the generations of the family is believable and interesting. The movie is a fun time but the deeper meaning does have to do with forgiving a parent. Johnny’s father doesn’t want him to turn into his grandfather. He wants him to work hard and be able to support himself. Nothing wrong with that but sometimes we are allowed to follow our passions and do things we love.
The message is good here. A lot of people grow up with anxiety and worry about the future and end up wasting their life away. It’s good to show kids that while you can work hard, don’t work your life away. Life is too short.
Johnny Tsunami is one of the better DCOMs for sure. It has heart, some good performances, and a good message. The movie is also shot very well with some beautiful scenery of beaches and mountains. It was also nice to see Cary- Hiroyuki Tagawa who a lot may know from Mortal Kombat as the grandfather. If you are into fish-out-of-water stories that have a few surprises, definitely check this one out.