The Highlight Reel

“Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board” and saying goodbye

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch


Photo by Marisa Valdez

Image copyright Walt Disney Pictures

Well, it all comes down to this.

11 movies later, I’ve toured the catalog of Disney Channel Original sports movies from “High School Musical” to “Alley Cats Strike.” They’ve ranged from awesome to awful, hilarious to cringe-inducing.

Now that this journey is coming to an end, I think it’s time to reflect on the fact that I did this all for essentially no reason. Was it funny? Maybe sometimes. Did I uncover any insightful cultural significance? “Double Teamed” might’ve come sort of close.

Yeah, for anyone who did read this column, it probably had essentially no impact.

But looking back at a semester worth of movie watching experiences, I made a lot of memories. 

A lot of times I watched these movies on Monday morning, with my roommates and girlfriend sharing nostalgic commentary as they caught parts here and there between work and classes. One of my roommates had work at noon on Monday all semester, so he would usually catch the first 45 minutes of the movie before heading off to work.

However, he left his job as he gears up for a semester abroad in New Zealand, which meant this week he got to join me for “Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board” in its wonderful entirety.

That’s right, we’re ending this column full circle-style, with the sequel to the very first Disney Channel Original Movie I reviewed — “Johnny Tsunami.”

For those out there who remember, I loved “Johnny Tsunami.” It set a high bar that was rarely met for the rest of the semester.

To keep it simple, the sequel, released eight years later, did not meet that high bar, either. It was mostly boring and weird, neglecting the fish-out-of-water fun that the original so successfully captured.

The story involves 17 year-old Johnny returning to Hawaii from Vermont for his grandfather’s wedding, and the difficult relationship he develops with his 12-year-old new uncle.

There’s dirt boarding (a sport I’ve never heard of that’s sort of like off-road skateboarding) and some surfing, which is fun.

The strength of the movie comes from the cast, though. Almost the entire main cast returns from the first film, including Johnny’s best friend Sam and his wacky grandfather. The movie mostly serves as a nostalgic send-off to the original “Johnny Tsunami.”

It’s an interesting thing, watching a movie from 2007 meant to evoke nostalgia for a movie from 1999.

But the movie did evoke nostalgia for me — nostalgia for the beginning of the semester, and the fun times I’ve had this spring.

Movies have a powerful ability to tie themselves to our memories, and, because of this silly column, I’ll forever have these cheesy Disney Channel Original sports movies tied to this period of my life.

In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving Eau Claire to spend six months in Austin, Texas for an internship. I’ll never live with both of my roommates from this year again, and one of them will be on another continent until next spring.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty over-sentimental, and tend to hate goodbyes. But, whether or not this column had any reason to exist, I’m glad that it gave me an excuse to watch and talk about movies with my friends.

Thanks for reading.

Also, “Kazam” is great.

Porisch can be reached at [email protected].