|Written by||Ann Knapp
|Directed by||Steve Boyum|
Lee Thompson Young
|Theme music composer||Phil Marshall|
|Producer(s)||Gerald T. Olson|
|Running time||88 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Film Roman|
|Distributor||Disney-ABC Domestic Television|
|Original network||Disney Channel|
|Original release||July 24, 1999|
|Followed by||Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board (2007)|
Johnny Tsunami is a 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie. It was nominated in 2000 for the Humanitas Prize as Children's Live-Action Category. Johnny Tsunami is the predecessor to Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board, released in June 2007. The film focuses on a young surfer from Hawaii who must adapt to new challenges when his father's job forces the family to move to Vermont.
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Johnny Kapahaala (Brandon Baker), a boy living in Hawaii, is a surfer who has good friends and a happy family, including his parents, Pete (Yuji Okumoto) and Melanie (Mary Page Keller), and his paternal grandfather, the famous surf legend Johnny Tsunami (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). When Pete gets a sudden job transfer, the family is forced to move to Vermont, while Johnny Tsunami stays in Hawaii.
In Johnny Kapahaala's new town, there are two schools: one is a private school where the students are all skiers, known as Skies; the other is the public school where all the students are snowboarders and known as Urchins. Although Johnny goes to the skiers' school, he would prefer to snowboard because he thinks it is more like surfing. Although he has a hard time at first, Johnny eventually learns how to snowboard with some help from a new friend named Sam Sterling (Lee Thompson Young).
While at his new school, Johnny becomes good friends with a girl named Emily (Kirsten Storms), who is Headmaster Pritchard's daughter. However, a skier named Brett (Zachary Bostrom) likes Emily as well and does not think Johnny is right for her. The Urchins decide to ride the side of the mountain that belongs to the skiers and are confronted by the Skies. Later, Emily attempts to learn how to snowboard with Johnny and his new friends, but nearly falls off the mountainside in the process.
A quick fight ensues between Johnny and Brett regarding the incident, but is immediately dispersed when a snow ranger arrives. When Johnny arrives home after a meeting with his parents and the headmaster concerning the fight with Brett, Sam tells Johnny that he is moving to Iceland, as are his father's orders since he is a sergeant major in the U.S. Marine Corps. Pete tells Johnny that Sam moving away would be for the better, as he wants Johnny to fit in with his peers at private school. A fight occurs between father and son. Johnny wishes his grandfather were there because he understands him better than Pete; however, Pete feels that Johnny Tsunami – a surf bum – is a bad influence on his son. Johnny and Sam run away from home and fly to Hawaii on a cargo plane to stay with Johnny's grandfather. Via telephone, Pete demands the boys be sent home immediately. Johnny's grandfather refuses to send them home until they are willing to return. In Vermont, Melanie finally tells Pete how she has been feeling about him unnecessarily punishing Johnny and tells him he needs to stop forbidding their son from his friends and let him snowboard. Pete tries unsuccessfully to defend his actions with Melanie, who reveals that she wishes that he could be the easy-going husband that she once loved, before he became the way he is.
Johnny and Sam have fun surfing and enjoying the warm weather in Hawaii, but they decide to return to Vermont along with Johnny's grandfather. Pete is shocked to see his father in Vermont and decides to discuss his son's punishment later. At the house, Johnny Tsunami finally has a heart-to-heart talk with Pete about his punishment in forbidding his son from snowboarding with his friends. Pete finally admits he went too far in punishing Johnny. Pete's father encourages him to go easy on Johnny and let him make his own mistakes so he can learn from them. Tsunami wisely tells Pete the more he tries to punish Johnny, the more resentful he will be towards his father later on in life. The next day, Johnny and his grandfather arrive at the mountain. Johnny, to his amazement, finds out that his grandfather has great snowboarding ability and they decide to ride the skiers' side of the mountain, where the best rides are.
Brett and his gang encounter Johnny and his grandfather and they decide to have a one-race challenge between Brett and Johnny Kapahaala. If Johnny wins the race, then the skiers must share the mountain with the snowboarders. If Brett wins, then he is awarded the Tsunami Medal, a prize given to the best surfer in Hawaii. Before the race, Pete encourages Johnny to win the race because the Tsunami Medal must remain in the family. He wins the race, despite Brett's cheating attempts, allowing him and Emily to begin a relationship. Brett's friends congratulate Johnny and are inspired to learn how to snowboard with the Urchins.
Johnny's parents decide to throw a celebration party. Randy and Eddie, who own the opposite sides of the mountain, finally reveal their story as they were the original Sky and Urchin. Their parents divorced a long time ago and they could not agree on what should happen when they inherited the mountain after their father died 10 years earlier. The mountain was split between the two brothers, with the Skies having the best rides. Randy and Eddie decide it is time to reunite the mountain and to open a new shop which allows everyone access to the best slopes. The brothers thank Johnny for helping them see the error of their ways. The ending scene shows Johnny and Emily dancing together.
- Brandon Baker as Johnny Kapahaala
- Yuji Okumoto as Pete
- Mary Page Keller as Melanie
- Lee Thompson Young as Sam Sterling
- Kirsten Storms as Emily
- Zachary Bostrom as Brett
- Gregory Itzin as Headmaster Pritchard
- Cylk Cozart as Sgt. Sterling
- Steve Van Wormer as Randy
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Johnny Tsunami
- Gabriel Luque as Matt
- Taylor Moore as Jake
- Anthony DiFranco as Eddie
- Noah Bastian as Aaron
- Anne Sward as Miss Arthur
Filming locations included Utah.
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- Vice, Jeff (July 16, 1999). "Making of feature films in Utah at all-time high". Deseret News. Retrieved June 7, 2016.