RVOD034 Aqua Frolics

(1950s-ish, Short/Newsreel, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

From the people that brought you Asphault Antics.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Water exists, and things happen it.


Kevin wants to sing us a little song about Drownsgiving.No lollygagging for this short. Without any sort of preamble, the narrator dives right into a list of water-related creatures, including performing seals, trained porpoises, a processed-shot turtle, and dozens of modestly swimsuited young women engaged in a gasp-inducing game of underwater basketball.

With no segue whatsoever, the short shifts abruptly to people eating a real turkey dinner at the bottom of a lagoon. This somehow leads to waterskiing stunts, water toboggan duels, and speedboats crashing into each other. Suddenly we’re watching bare-chested Mexicans leap from clifftops into the roaring surf. And then, without warning, it ends.


I’m not sure what this short is for, or even what it’s about. It’s not quite weird enough to be considered “experimental”, though watching those divers munch on soggy turkey comes close. It’s not true-to-life enough to be considered “educational”. Sure, they included a fact or two, but aside from the head-twistingly strange dinner scene, they also included a startlingly dishonest shot of a "giant" sea turtle--an obvious special affect coupled with narration so sincere that it seems for all the world like they’re trying to convince the audience of this forty-foot behemoth’s existence.

There's nothing quite like waterlogged poultry for dinner.In fact, the first time I saw Aqua Frolics, I couldn’t seem to make out just what the hell anything in it had to do with anything else in it, or indeed, just what the hell the short en toto had to do with, well, anything. I was delirious with the West Nile Virus at the time, though, so, determined to give it a fair review, I decided to wait until I could watch it again with eyes unglazed by fever. Days later, I was in my right mind again. The second viewing was mostly the same, though slightly more uncomfortable, as the underwater scenes had me holding my breath a lot. It says something about a film when it’s more fun to watch while temporarily insane. And the something that it says is, “Huh?”

Mike, Bill and Kevin are on hand with their standard helping of mockery, though the way this film runs from topic to topic without any rhyme or reason, I’m thinking it must have been difficult to hit this moving target. When divers seat themselves that their underwater picnic table, Kevin calls it “Drownsgiving.” When the men smoke afterwards, Mike sings, “Smooooooke underwaaaaater...” When we meet the Mexican cliff divers, Bill shouts “Extreeeeeemmmmeeee Aqua Frolics!” They provide a pleasant counterpoint to the nonsense of the short, but ultimately Aqua Frolics goes little too fast while making too little sense.