Rip Girls is one of those DCOMs that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and very nostalgic for my Disney Channel childhood. It was directed by Joyce Chopra, written by Jeanne Rosenberg. Young Camilla Belle plays Sydney Miller, a 13-year-old girl who has a big decision to make. Sydney has inherited land in Hawaii and must decide whether to preserve it or sell it to developers. I’ll admit that I didn’t quite understand that part when I was in elementary school, but there are plenty of other pieces in the film for kid viewers to enjoy.
Sydney arrives at Makai from Chicago with her father and stepmother. We learn that Sydney was very young when her biological mother passed away, and we see Sydney gradually learn more about her mom through a photograph, a surfboard, and locals who become good friends. Gia, a girl about Sydney’s age, teaches the newbie to surf and encourages Sydney’s crush on a guy named Kona. It’s Gia’s mom, Malia, who shares so much with Sydney about her mother, whose nickname was Naniloa (as seen on the old surfboard).
Sydney’s stepmom is pretty cool, but her father is extremely resistant to Sydney doing anything that could be remotely dangerous. He is furious when she has a surfing accident and blames Malia for everything. Sydney starts making more of her own decisions and sneaks out to go to a luau with Gia and Kona. My absolute favorite scene in the movie: Sydney and Kona are standing close to one another as a storyteller begins her tale. Kona translates every phrase into English, speaking the words softly into Gia’s ear. He kisses Sydney and ends the story with, “The colors of the rainbow danced on their wedding day.” Just one of the absolute sweetest depictions of young love I’ve seen in my entire life.
As for the land and property, Sydney ultimately decides not to sell. But as you’ll often see in DCOMs, she thinks about making a different decision, which causes a rift between her and her friends. It’s so sweet when everyone reconciles, and Sydney gets to stay in Hawaii as her dad becomes more understanding (their heart-to-heart happens about an hour into the film). If you’ve never seen Rip Girls, I do hope you’ll watch it. The movie is beautifully filmed, perfectly cast, and appropriately nestled into the classic DCOM heritage.