With the zesty "Blue Juice," writer-director Carl Prechezer and co-writer Peter Salmi have taken the '60s surfer movie and dropped it into a picturesque village on the Cornish coast to create a serious contemporary comedy about the trouble men have in growing up.
Tanned, lean and blond, JC (Sean Pertwee) would be just as much at home on the west coast of America as he is on the west coast of England. A local hero because he once dared to surf the Boneyard, where waves crash on lethally rocky reefs, he is so responsive to the eternal call of "Surf's up" that he'd rather ride a wave than make love--much to the frustration of his beautiful girlfriend, Chloe (Catherine Zeta Jones).
She's eager to marry him and is beginning to think of buying the fast-food cafe she operates when it soon comes up for auction. JC, who's planning to surf around the world, finds such thoughts hopelessly boring.
When JC's surfing buddies Dean (Ewan McGregor) and Josh (Steven Mackintosh) "kidnap" another pal, Terry (Peter Gunn), about to be married, and arrive from London for some fun and games with JC, the visit proves catalytic for all concerned.
Happy-go-lucky, reckless Dean has actually reached a desperate stage, prepared to go to extremes to find some kind of anchor in life. A highly successful record producer who sold out his artistic standards long ago, Josh has become a total cynic, especially about women. Rotund, dense Terry, a pub operator, feels he's in love and simply wants to settle down but at the same time is eager to please his hell-raising friends by going along with them.
Meanwhile, JC is resisting mightily the simple fact that 30 is staring him in the face, that in fact he is no longer a kid even if he tries to feel like one.
Prechezer hits just the right balance between humor and seriousness and is inventive in creating a series of lively, often rowdy and funny incidents that constantly reveal character: JC, Dean and Josh are not as happy as they'd like to believe they are.
Prechezer's cast is ingratiating and attractive, and "Blue Juice" is as buoyant as its terrific rock score. "Blue Juice" ties everything up at the end as neatly as "Beach Blanket Bingo," but not before eliciting some genuine emotion and driving home some uncomfortable truths.
* Unrated. Times guidelines: The film has some sexuality and strong language.
Sean Pertwee JC
Catherine Zeta Jones Chloe
Steven Macintosh Josh Tambini
Ewan McGregor Dean Raymond
Peter Gunn Terry Colcott
A Filmopolis Pictures presentation of a Film Four International/Pandora Cinema production. Director Carl Prechezer. Producers Simon Relph & Peter Salmi. Screenplay by Salmi & Prechezer; based on an idea by them and Tim Veglio. Cinematographer Richard Greatrex. Editor Michael Ellis. Costumes Linda Alderson. Music Simon Davison. Production designer Mark Tildesley. Art director Tristan Peatfield. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.
* Exclusively at the Nuart through Wednesday, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-6379. It also opens Friday at University 6, Campus Drive opposite U.C. Irvine, (714) 854-8811.