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The Surprising Action-Comedy That's Taking Netflix By Storm

Ready for a day at the beach, with some action-packed laughs to boot? Fire up Netflix — we've got the movie for you.

Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave recently dropped on the streamer, and it's already burning up the Top Ten list for movies in the U.S. It's a ton of fun, totally family-friendly, and hilarious. Plus, if you dig The Next Wave, there's more where it came from.

As you may have guessed by its subtitle, the film is a sequel that was preceded by 2019's Malibu Rescue – The Movie ... which preceded an eight-episode series entitled Malibu Rescue that also dropped last year. Essentially, the world of Malibu Rescue began as a movie, exists mostly as a comedy series, and just rolled out its newest feature film special with The Next Wave

You don't have to binge all of Malibu Rescue in order to enjoy The Next Wave — but hey, we won't stop you, and in fact, we recommend it. Both of the flicks and the series sport the same awesome young cast and ultra-witty writing, thanks to the guiding hand of film and television vet Savage Steve Holland, who directed both movies and served as showrunner on the series. His name just might ring a bell; we'll get to that shortly.

Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave centers on a ragtag group of junior lifeguards who must dig deep when a prestigious rescue competition comes to town. It stars Ricardo Hurtado of the School of Rock series as Tyler, an ultra-competitive teen; his School of Rock castmate Breanna Yde co-stars as Gina, an accomplished athlete. Joining them are A Horse Story's Jackie R. Jacobson as Dylan, the team tower captain; Suburgatory's Abby Donnelly as Lizzie, the most bubbly and outgoing of the group; and The Originals' Alkoys Brunson as Eric, Lizzie's boyfriend. The chemistry between this gang is key to the whole zany vibe of both flicks as well as the series, and they're back in fine form here.

What's Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave about?

Just to briefly catch you up, Malibu Rescue – The Movie introduced us to the group — a bunch of kids with just two things in common: They all aspire to be Malibu lifeguards, and they're all from the Valley. Basically, in the eyes of the snobby local kids, they're total scrubs. When the gang finds out that they were considered to join the Malibu lifeguard team just so that they would fail the training program, they come together to kick butt and claim the best tower on Malibu Beach.

The first season of the Malibu Rescue series dealt mainly with the efforts of the locals to unseat the newcomers from their spot. Meanwhile, the gang was also dealing with disapproving parents, budding relationships, and the machinations of a mysterious "secret society" that ends up being not-so-secret. 

Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave takes place during the following summer, and sees the International Junior Rescue Team coming to Malibu to take on the locals in a tough competition. When the crew comes down with food poisoning, it's up to Gina to prove that Team USA has the right stuff.

The mind behind Malibu Rescue

To get a clear idea of the comedic sensibility of the Malibu Rescue movies and series, look no further than Savage Steve Holland's filmography. Holland, the mastermind behind the Malibu Rescue franchise, started his showbiz career with the zany 1985 dark comedy Better Off Dead – which starred John Cusack as Lane Myer, a depressed teen who falls in love with a beautiful French exchange student, wins a ski competition with only one ski, and manages to avoid giving the paperboy his two dollars for the duration of the film. Like we said: zany. Better Off Dead is considered one of the most underrated comedies of the '80s — alongside One Crazy Summer, Holland's second feature. That film also starred Cusack, this time as Hoops McCann, an aspiring cartoonist who helps a young pop singer (Demi Moore) save her family property.

Holland then segued into television, and his list of credits in the medium is, well, insane. He created the wildly underrated series The New Adventures of Beans Baxter for the then-fledgling Fox network and Eek! The Cat for Nickelodeon, served as assistant director for two seasons of Saturday Night Live, and wrote or directed multiple episodes of series such as Kenan & Kel, V.I.P., Sabrina: The Animated Series, Lizzie McGuire, Phil of the Future, Zoey 101, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, and Big Time Rush.

In short, Holland's a guy who helped bring quirky, character-driven comedy to a couple generations of youngsters, and the Malibu Rescue series proves that he's still as awesome as ever. You can stream Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave on Netflix right now — or, better yet, start at the beginning with the first film and binge away.