After I last watched On the Buses on TV about twenty-five years ago, I hoped I would never have to endure another mucky British comedy about sexual frustration – usually involving a beautiful, randy bird and a chap who, because of some humiliating stricture, can't do it with her.
But alas, here comes Blue Juice, a British surfing movie about an ex-lad, JC (Sean Pertwee), facing the implications of turning 30. While his girlfriend Chloe (Catherine Zeta-Jones, pre-Hollywood) lies writhing with desire in bed, JC abstains from all erotic activity and puts himself through a punishing regime of exercise – all for the sake of one last crack at a great wave.
I am no aficionado of surfing movies, but a passing acquaintance with John Milius' classic Big Wednesday (1978) is enough to alert me to the standard motifs of the genre, which undergo local variations here.
We have, for instance, the omnipresent reminder of '60s hippie values, embodied in an old guru, Shaper (Heathcote Williams).
Above all, there is the theme of growing old and becoming staid – linked in JC's mind, of course, to marriage, family and Chloe. Tempted by a band of his mates from London, JC flees his adult destiny and tries to recapture his youth. Naturally, Blue Juice tries to suggest a redemptive possibility between ending up either an old fart or a young fool.
As a mildly reflective comedy, Carl Prechezer's film has little to recommend it – and as a surf movie, it may have rather too little surfing in it for buffs.
All I will retain from it is a berserk sub-plot about the inferiority of techno music to good old soul, centred on JC's hip pal Josh (Steven Mackintosh).
In a mind-boggling scene, Josh is corralled in a low-rent nightclub by a gang of musical true-believers. He is put on trial; the DJ Junior (Colette Brown) spins an old soul classic and then Josh's hideous techno re-mix (modelled on "Futurist repetitive poetry", he explains).
Josh's sentence is swift: he must face the real music – and dance.
© Adrian Martin February 1996