Absolutely charming, unabashedly offbeat “Blue Juice” is a quirky comedy billed as Britain’s first surf pic. It could well do strong indie business in the U.S. if an adventurous distrib targets hip young auds. But marketing mavens will have to convince moviegoers that the phrase “Brit surf film” is not an oxymoron. With strong press support, film will likely do well on its home turf and could spark interest in other English-speaking territories. “Blue Juice” seduces precisely because writer-director Carl Prechezer and co-scripter Peter Salmi make the most of the comic ironies inherent in a story about hapless surf bums stuck on the chilly, Cornish coast of England. But pic doesn’t just ride a wave of easy laughs. Prechezer and Salmi, who are making their feature debut, add depth to the wit thanks to some dynamite perfs from a strong ensemble cast and a feel-good, inspirational finale.
Legendary local surfer JC (Sean Pertwee) is having a hard time coming to grips with the notion that his wave-riding heroics are a thing of the past, and he’s having an even tougher time dealing with his sexy girlfriend, Chloe (Catherine Zeta Jones), who’s unsuccessfully trying to get him to settle down. Poor old JC has to wear a girdle due to a bad back, and his back pain makes even sex painful, as is hilariously portrayed in a side-splittingly funny scene in which his randy girlfriend makes trifle on his naked body.
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Chloe finally kicks him out of the house when three old friends of his from London show up on his doorstep in the middle of the night. His former mates are dealing with turning 30 even worse than JC is. Dean (Ewan McGregor) is a drug-addled hipster, Josh (Steven Mackintosh) is a hot techno-music producer, and together they’ve kidnapped Terry (Peter Gunn), another old buddy who is about to be married. They feel it’s their duty to liberate the rather dull Terry before he becomes imprisoned in a boring marriage.
At the beginning, not all that much surfing goes on for the very good reason that there doesn’t seem to be a wave in sight off the picturesque Cornwall coast , and JC is reduced to teaching kids how to surf on the sand. Chloe is determined to buy a run-down diner, the Aqua Shack, where all the surfers hang out. Some of the funniest moments in pic are provided when Dean slips Terry some mind-altering pharmaceuticals and the bore suddenly goes wacko. Pic ends with some fairly dramatic surf action.
Pertwee is perfect as the impossible-to-dislike JC, Jones steams up the screen as Chloe, and McGregor, who starred in Scottish click “Shallow Grave,” delivers the pic’s best performance as the bordering-on-psychotic Dean.
Prechezer and Salmi’s script is overloaded with finely tuned humor, and Prechezer’s direction manages to strike just the right balance of yuks, watery thrills ‘n’ spills and heart-melting romance.
Lensing by Richard Greatrex is first-rate, as are all tech credits. Soundtrack features slew of hip British rockers like Ride and Swervedriver.