Gidget is one of those movies that you either love... or you don't. To really enjoy this film, you have to be able to completely distend reality and dive head first into the wonderful ridiculousness of it all. It probably helps that I first watched this movie as a pre-teen girl. I grew up one of those girls who wasn't boy crazy, I had other interests, different ambitions, therefore I sometimes felt like I didn't fit in with my peers. Watching the beautiful Sandra Dee struggle with those same issues was a balm for my aggravated not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman self. This is a movie strictly for girls, a fabulous coming of age story that all of us tomboys and girls-next-door types can identify with.
It's a story about first love, new friends, finding yourself and of course... surfing! The story goes like this, Gidget falls into step with a group of surf bums, a bunch of guys who spend their summer soaking up the sun and riding the waves in between college semesters. They are led by Kahuna, a jaded Korean War vet with the absolute worse case of Peter Pan syndrome. His second in command is the sexy crooning Moondoggie who is dealing with his own identity crisis not to mention a wagon load of daddy issues. Gidget falls for Moondoggie and spends the summer trying to figure out how to attract his attention. A difficult task for a teenage girl whose never been in love let alone a tomboy experiencing that awkward transition from girl to woman. By the end of the film, she has given Kahuna a new zest for life, put Moondoggie back on track and is beginning to understand herself what it means to understand your own heart.
This movie always reminds me that its okay to feel like a girl. That when the thunder cloud of emotions hit, I'm still normal. That when life throws me a curve ball and I can no longer do what I love, I embrace instead what I can do in the face of impossibility... I keep trying. I put my figurative surf board on my bed and imagine the waves until I can find my way back to the beach. I hold out for the guy whose ready to embrace life instead of settling for the boy who runs from responsibility. I make mistakes and learn from them.
Sandra Dee is my only Gidget... and I hope one day she will be my daughter's Gidget as well.