The 1990’s was a wild place when it came to movies geared towards kids, guys. There were times where none of us knew why these movies existed, but we watched them and loved them anyhow. I think enough time has passed for us to talk about Surf Ninjas, you know?
If you’ve never heard of Surf Ninjas, I’ll make sure to give you a trailer. We’ll jog that memory of yours a little, okay? What you need to know is that this movie had the white-hot star power of Leslie Nielsen and Rob Schneider. I know you’re asking “That’s it?” well, no. Ernie Reyes Jr. of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 fame and the lesser known television show Sidekicks was getting his New Line Cinema leading role debut here as well.
You watched the trailer, right? Okay, so you’re just as confused as before, I’m assuming. It’s okay, I think we all were to some degree. However, the early 90’s were literally saturated with things about ninjas. Ernie Reyes Jr. had already hit up both the first and second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies which came out pre-Surf Ninjas. In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he was Donatello’s martial arts stunt double. Perhaps New Line Cinema was such a fan that they wanted this young fella to sign a contract and show up in a few of their other films. So, he became Keno in the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then took on Surf Ninjas. Thing of it was, he also took up an Associate Producer’s credit for the movie — which is an article for a whole ‘nother time.
The movie shows these two brothers, their wacky 47 year old best friend whom is trying to pass as their age? No idea. Rob Schneider makes no sense here, but what are we supposed to do? Question it? We already bought our tickets. After about two minutes of surfing — we’re meant to just assume they’re surfers and we can be done with it now. The kids hit up school, the youngest rocking his SEGA Game Gear — which was an OBVIOUS moment of marketing. Game consoles aren’t typically intensely featured in movies or shows because it means a partnership between the console companies and the movie production companies. Not always do movie productions want to give up any sort of freedom in order to take notes from another non-film related company. This should’ve signaled some issues from the jump. Why? Because the movie became one non-stop commercial! As it so happens, SEGA helped with a majority of the IMPOSSIBLE to find budget for this just so they could get that game hype going.
Specific scenes showed the younger brother playing the game (NAMED AFTER THE MOVIE! WHOA!?) and the movie’s writer mentioned that he wrote those in intentionally for SEGA, as they knew game tie-ins to the movie were going to happen. If you’re wondering further on how good of an idea this was – the game was already being made and near completion before the movie even left the script phase. So, why then? They left SEGA to make a game based on a script that wasn’t completely finalized. Now, trying to find the actual budget for this film is damn near impossible. Yet, what I will point out from looking around, this had to be one intense budget. Typically, film productions attempt to cut costs by filming in Canada or, if taking it international, cheaper look-a-like countries that they can get away with shooting in. If a film production isn’t going with a soundstage for the whole situation, it’s best to assume you’re going to see some lookalike locations. Back in the 90’s though, Los Angeles was a bit cheaper to film in, so that one made sense. BUT THEY ALSO WENT TO THAILAND. They FILMED in Thailand. Bonkers.
You want me to talk about the actual story to the movie? I feel like the MAKING of this movie is far more interesting, personally. Hell, I’m not even the only one! While I was researching stuff on Surf Ninjas, I found out that a podcast called How Did This Get Made? featuring Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, June Diane Raphael and several other rad comedians talked about Surf Ninjas as well. Make sure to check it out if you’re curious about even more than what I’ve stated here. It’s bananas.
The movie is pretty standard 1990’s stuff here, let me add. The 90’s were rife with movies where ordinary kids had a secret hidden from them where they were no longer ordinary. It was the kind of story that resonated with kids back in the 90’s, I’m assuming, because it was everywhere. The two brothers find out they’re princes from some made-up place in another country (which is also the same fake country the writer used when he wrote Sidekicks, the other Ernie Reyes Jr. star vehicle. It’s canon now.) and they’re being urged to come to this country and run it. Who runs the world? Surf Ninjas. Ernie Reyes Sr. plays the one to draw them further into this, even including Rob freaking Schneider in the shenanigans. Who is the cop trying to get to the bottom of the evil ninja soldiers who are coming to kill the boys? Oh, did I not mention that? There was REAL PERIL following these Surfing Ninja Princes. Well, Tone Loc is the cop trying to sort out the drama. When it’s revealed that they have to bail out and head to this other country – HE COMES ALONG. Yup. Rob Schneider, Tone Loc, The Ernies and the lil’ kid – ALL GO INTERNATIONAL STYLE.
This is when they find out that Ernie Reyes Jr. is being encouraged to marry another Princess and Leslie Nielsen, of Naked Gun fame, is the culture appropriating villain in this country. I won’t even continue with how this movie pans out. You already know too much. Let me tell you though – you SHOULD enjoy this movie. Why? Because it’s awful but it has good intentions. That was pretty much most of 90’s kid films. Very, very few of them were non-stop amazing but they had good intentions. They told stories that were not relatable for pretty much any kid, but how cool was it that they wanted kids to feel hope? Don’t buckle down and work on a life here, because you just may be royalty elsewhere! Again, good intentions.