Matt Johnson, Jack Barlow, and Leroy Smith are three young California surfers in the 1960s. At first reveling in the carefree life of beaches, girls, and waves, they eventually must face the fact that the world is changing, becoming more complex, less answerable by simple solutions. Ultimately the Vietnam war interrupts their idyll, leaving them to wonder if they will survive until "Big Wednesday," the mythical day when the greatest, cleanest, most transcendent wave of all will come.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
I can't believe this movie has finally been released to DVD! This is one of two or three VHS movies in my extremely large vault of VHS tapes that I'll still dust off and view on my trusty old VCR. Not everyone will dig this movie. You either have to be a fan of one of the actors or John Milius, had seen it when it was released, are an avid surfer with respect for the sport and its rich history, or you saw it at a time in your life that much like a familiar smell or an old song, it transports you back to a unique period of your life. Having grown up on the beaches of Southern California with a crew of friends, it's hard not to think that this film was a collection of polaroids of our own lives. This film is supposedly a very personal and semi-autobiographic story of John Milius'. His characters, settings, and music create an atmosphere that you feel you can swim through. This film is very nostalgic, and is a perfect coming of age story. There are so many peripheral characters that surround the three main leads, that it's hard not to identify with one or many of them. I think everyone has been, or has grown up with, these characters. The crazy guy, the rebellious guy, the guy that is wise beyond his years, the mentor, the guy that everyone looks up to, the new girl, the popular girl, etc. Kind of like Dazed and Confused, and its multitude of characters. The film itself is very dated and is rather hokey if none of what I've written thusfar relates to you. But I will say that this movie has one of the best party/fight scenes of any movie I've ever seen (I have a BA in Film from SFSU, so I've seen a lot of them). The Vietnam draft scene is a classic. And watch for many early career cameos by Frank McRae and Robert Englund (yep, that's Freddy with the keg tap). Also note the sweet wave riding of some of surfing's greats; Gerry Lopez, J. Riddle, Peter Townend, and Jacki Dunn. John Milius has succeeded in recreating a time and place in surf history that can never be visited again; the innocence (and perhaps the naivete) of the time, the adventurous spirit of youth, the comraderie and adventures/misadventures of friends, and the pursuit of surfing for surfing (not for labels, social status, intimidation, or because "it's cool"). This film should be required viewing for anyone surfing, or learning to surf today. The beach, the waves, the environment should be a sense of therapy for life. Growing up in Southern California, I know that no matter what kind of garbage life may throw my way; I still can drive down PCH and and mother ocean will be right there to make everything right again.
Everytime I pop this film in and hear the soothing guitar picking, watch the friends cruising down the beach and surfing all day long, or tearing up a parent's house with a party, I think of that same period of my life and look back with content.
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