|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
Disney Channel Original Productions
|Original channel||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.
The movie starts out when Johnny Kapahala (Brandon Baker) is living in Hawaii. Johnny has good friends, a great family, and a grandpa, the famous Johnny Tsunami (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a surf legend who saved a group of survivors from a plane crash. But then, his father, Pete (Yuji Okumoto), gets a job transfer and makes his wife, Melanie (Mary Page Keller), and Johnny move to Vermont.
In Johnny's new town, there are two schools: one is a private school where the students are all skiers, and the other is the public school where all the students are snowboarders. 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 Sam Sterling (Lee Thompson Young).
While at his new school, Johnny meets a girl named Emily (Kirsten Storms), with whom he becomes good friends, but she is Headmaster Pritchard's daughter. However, a skier named Brett likes Emily as well and doesn't think Johnny is right for her. During one incident in the mountain, the Urchins (the students from the public school) decide to ride the side of the mountain that belongs to the skiers and are confronted by the Skies (the private school students). Emily attempts to learn how to snowboard with Johnny and his new friends, but gets hurt in the process.
A quick fight ensues between Johnny and Brett (Zachary Bostrom), 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 him that Sam moving away would be for the better and wants him to fit in with his peers. This causes a fight between father and son, which Johnny wishes his grandfather was here because he understands him better than Pete. Intent on doing something to prevent the move, Johnny and Sam fly to Hawaii on a cargo plane to stay with Johnny's grandfather. This leads to a telephone confrontation between the men. Pete demands the boys be sent home right away because he and Sam's father are upset with their actions. Johnny's grandfather refuses to send them home and tells him they must make that decision on their own. In Vermont, Melanie finally tells Pete how she's been feeling about him unnecessarily punishing Johnny and tells him off he needs to stop forbidding their son from his friends and let him snowboard. He tries to defend his actions with her, but it falls on deaf ears. Melanie tells Pete off that she wishes that she could have the easy-going husband that she once loved, before he became the way he is.
Johnny and Sam have a great time in Hawaii surfing and enjoying the warm weather, but they decide to come back to Vermont along with Johnny's grandfather, the famous Johnny Tsunami. Pete is shocked to see his father in Vermont and decides to discuss his son's punishment later. At the house, Johnny's grandfather 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 did go too far in punishing Johnny, but he wanted him to fit in with his peers at his school and not snowboard. His father encourages him to just go easy on Johnny and let him make his own mistakes so he can learn from them. He wisely tells Pete the more he tries to punish him, the more resentful Johnny will be towards his father later on in life. The next day, he and his grandfather arrives at the mountain. Johnny is worried and tells him they should go home because he's still grounded. His grandfather tells him not to worry about Pete because he'll deal with him later and just show him the best slopes. 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 meet Johnny and his grandfather and they decide to have a one-race challenge between Brett and Johnny. 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 dirty attempts to cheat, allowing him and Emily to begin a relationship. Brett's friends congratulates Johnny and are inspired to learn how to snowboard with the Urchins.
Johnny's parents decides to throw a celebration party. The brothers finally reunite and thanks Johnny for helping them see the error of their ways. 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 couldn't agree on what should happen when they inherited the mountain after they died. This ended up being split between the two brothers, the Skies having the best rides, leaving the Urchins with not so great ones. Randy and Eddie decides it's time to reunite the mountain and open a new shop which allows everyone the best access to the best slopes. The ending scene shows Johnny and Emily dancing together.
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Johnny Tsunami
- Brandon Baker as Johnny Kapahala
- Mary Page Keller as Melanie
- Yuji Okumoto as Pete
- Lee Thompson Young as Sam Sterling
- Cylk Cozart as Sgt. Sterling
- Kirsten Storms as Emily
- Zachary Bostrom as Brett
- Gregory Itzin as Headmaster Pritchard
- Taylor Moore as Jake
- Anthony DiFranco as Eddie
- Steve Van Wormer as Randy
- Noah Bastian as Aaron
- Gabriel Luque as Matt
- Patrick Hoversten as Brighton Ski Patrolman
- Anne Sward as Miss Arthur
- Kevin Clifford as Keith, the Mall Cop
- Robert B. as snowboarder
- The Way - Fastball
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- Life Jacket - Simon Says