Fun On The Beach

Filmed on the beautiful shores of Malibu, Side Out briefly glamorized the rising sport of beach volleyball in 1990 with mixed success. Karch Kiraly, the Michael Jordan of volleyball, elevated the sport to national prominence after leading the United States to a Gold Medal in 1984.

The sport’s focus shifted to the beach as Kiraly and other famous athletes like Sinjin Smith put their weight behind a fledgling pro beach tour in the late 1980s. By 1996 beach volleyball had become popular enough on its own to become a full Olympic sport. The sport rose to global fame in the 2000s thanks to superstars Misty May-Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings, who won three consecutive Gold Medals.

Side Out has a serious cult charm dripping with ‘80s verve

Side Out stars C. Thomas Howell, Peter Horton, and a fresh-faced Courtney Thorne-Smith before her days on Melrose Place. Released in 1990, the sports drama/romance/comedy has most of its creative energy firmly stuck in the 1980s. There’s a shaggy charm perfect for nostalgia hounds looking to relive the glories of VHS. A young Kathy Ireland has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, one of her earliest film roles.

There’s a little bit of everything in the hokey but largely earnest story. Filmed before producers had a command of the best viewing angles for beach volleyball, the sports action often looks cheesy despite using pro players.

College student Monroe Clark (C. Thomas Howell) visits sunny L.A. for the summer, clerking for his uncle’s law firm. Monroe meets semi-retired beach legend Zack Barnes (Peter Horton) while serving him an eviction notice.

Falling in love with beach volleyball playing with his friend Wiley, Monroe wants to play with the big boys and enters the local pro tournament. Monroe romances a waitress in his spare time, Samantha (Courtney Thorne-Smith).

The lightweight comedy and drama is all about sun, fun and beach volleyball. Aimed at younger male audiences, Side Out’s formula is a hodgepodge of bikini babes, relationships and sports.

The volleyball action isn’t the greatest but serves up a taste of the sport with famous beach icons like Steve Timmons and Randy Stoklos. It’s fairly cheesy how a rookie amateur like Monroe becomes competitive against pro talent overnight. But if you can overlook an implausible sports arc, Side Out has a serious cult charm dripping with ‘80s verve.

Video

Budget distributor Mill Creek licenses Side Out from Sony, who is presumably responsible for this weak and underwhelming film transfer. We can now understand why Sony passed on releasing Side Out themselves.

The 1.85:1 presentation is a great disappointment since this is the movie’s debut on Blu-ray. There is little chance this obscure cult classic receives a second reissue with better definition and improved fine detail.

The transfer resembles a processed master from soft elements, possibly an ancient telecine effort with limited detail and rampant softness. Chunky, unnatural grain and thick ringing cloud many interior and exterior scenes. A serviceable contrast and crisp black levels come off better, the 1080p video’s best attributes.

The main feature runs an uncut 103 minutes on a BD-25. The AVC encode is less than effective, leading to macroblocking and messy grain reproduction. After the poor film transfer, the encode is a secondary concern. Colors are slightly warm with healthy flesh-tones.

It’s fully apparent Sony hasn’t struck a new scan for Side Out in many years, possibly dating back to the 2000s. The dated elements are in satisfactory but unremarkable condition. Despite some fantastic location shooting in California, there’s not much depth or wow factor in Side Out’s picture quality.

Audio

Side Out’s 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio in stereo has decent fidelity and adequate dynamics for a catalog title. The soundtrack is packed with familiar hits from Kenny Loggins and Paula Abdul, among others. There does not appear to be music substitutions for any of the original hits.

Dialogue is kept clean and intact. There isn’t much bottom in the limited stereo mix but frequency response is generally excellent. A hint of distortion and shrill upper frequencies are present when the mix runs hot.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Mill Creek releases Side Out as part of their Retro VHS line with no special features. A glossy slipcover styled like a vintage VHS tape is available for early pressings.

The back-cover lists the disc as Region A but it’s likely coded for all regions.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Side Out
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A passable, breezy sports movie from the early 1990s about the emerging pro beach volleyball scene using actual players like Randy Stoklos and Sinjin Smith alongside Hollywood actors.

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User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: