Yesterday evening, I watched the 1992 made-for-TV movie, Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style!
Why Was I Watching It?
Eh. It was on Netflix. I was thinking about all of the fun that I had when I visited Hawaii. I had just posted my review of Dustin Diamond’s Behind The Bell and I was feeling a little guilty about some of the things I wrote about him. I saw the film was available to watch and I thought, “Why not?”
What Was It About?
The Saved By The Bell gang is spending their summer vacation in Hawaii! Kelly’s grandfather (played by “special guest star” Dean Jones) owns a hotel but …. uh-oh! It looks like the hotel is going to go out of business unless Zack and the gang can fool a bunch of principals (led by their principal, Mr. Belding) to check in.
Along with trying to save the hotel, each member of the Gang gets an adventure of their own!
Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) falls for a single mother (Rena Sofer), who has a rich boyfriend who owns a limo. Zack thinks the guy is shallow and is unimpressed with his wealth. Zack Morris, class warrior? Whatever.
Kelly (Tiffani-Amber Theissen) falls for her grandfather’s lawyer, not knowing that he’s actually working for the rival hotel.
Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) and Slater (Mario Lopez) try to spend the entire vacation without fighting.
Lisa (Lark Voorhies) makes a bet that Jessie and Slater can’t spend the entire vacation without fighting.
And Screech (Dustin Diamond) is mistaken for a deity by a Polynesian tribe.
What Did Not Work?
It’s Saved By The Bell …. without a laugh track!
Unfortunately, Saved By The Bell was one of those shows that really needed a laugh track because, without the sound of an audience being ordered to laugh, it becomes next to impossible to ignore just how lame most of the jokes are. Though the cast of Saved By The Bell featured a few talented actors, every single one of them still delivers their Hawaiian Style lines as if they’re waiting for the laughter that never comes. As a result, every “laugh line” is followed by an awkward pause.
As for the show’s plot …. well, let’s put it like this. Traditionally, I start out these posts by discussing what worked before then discussing what didn’t. However, so little works with Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style that I felt like it was best to get all of the negative stuff out of the way early. While Saved By The Bell always required a healthy suspension of disbelief, Hawaiian Style abuses the privilege. Saved By The Bell Hawaiian Style asks us to believe the following:
- Kelly would be allowed to travel all the way to Hawaii without her parents.
- She would be allowed to take along all of her friends, who would also be traveling without parents.
- Screech would somehow be invited, despite the fact that no one in the group seems to like him.
- Somehow, their high school principal would also turn up in Hawaii at the exact same time.
- A single mother would dump her rich boyfriend for a high school junior.
- Screech would be mistaken for a Hawaiian God.
Of course, I guess some would say that we should be happy that the Gang was around to save the day but it’s hard not to notice that all of Zack’s schemes are dependent upon some terrible lie. As well, I have to wonder if it was really worth all the trouble to save Kelly’s grandfather’s hotel. I mean, maybe the guy just wasn’t a very good businessman. I would probably be annoyed if I was on vacation in Hawaii with my friends and I was told that I would be spending the entire time working because some guy who was 50 years older than me couldn’t figure out how to balance the books.
This movie apparently aired on primetime television. I wonder how viewers who didn’t know about Saved By The Bell felt when they came across it.
As bad as it was, it was also Saved By The Bell and, as a result, it did have some nostalgic appeal to it. After the movie aired, Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style was sold into syndication as four regular episodes of Saved By The Bell and I can still remember seeing them on whatever channel Saved By The Bell was airing on at the time and thinking to myself, “What the Hell?”
The film was shot on location so, needless to say, the scenery was lovely. Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley had a few fun moments as Slater and Jessie tried to go the entire trip without fighting. There were small pleasures to be found. Very small.
“OMG! Just like me!” Moments
When I was seventeen, I spent the summer in Hawaii with my mom and my sisters. It was a lot of fun. Though I don’t swim, I still had a lot of fun laying out on the beach. Hawaii is one of the most incredibly beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. I would sneak out at the hotel at night and then marvel at the scenery during the day. It was one of my favorite summers. Of course, I also didn’t have to spend my vacation helping a bad businessman save his resort. That helped.
Apparently, I’ll watch anything.