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  Summer City Holiday Road
Year: 1977
Director: Christopher Fraser
Stars: John Jarratt, Philip Avalon, Steve Bisley, Mel Gibson, James Elliott, Debbie Forman, Abigail, Ward 'Pally' Austin, Judith Woodroffe, Carl Rorke, Ross Bailey, Hank Tick, Bruce Cole, Vicki Hekimian, Karen Williams
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the nineteen sixties, and a group of four Australian buddies are planning to spend their summer at the beach, but they have to get there first. In a couple of weeks one of their number, Sandy (John Jarratt), will be getting married, and for the other three they see this as his opportunity to have some fun before the happy event, but he does not view it that way himself. This puts him at odds with Boo (Steve Bisley), who is quite happy to womanise as much as he can, and is always looking for girls to chat up, but there's such a thing as going too far...

Well, even big movie stars have to start somewhere, and even those with a fairly successful career who don't make it internationally have to do the same, so there are a few recognisable faces in Summer City, which marked the debut of a certain Mel Gibson who played a member of the group heading for sun, sea and sex on the coast. His co-stars Jarratt and Bisley would go on to their successes too, mainly on their home turf, it has to be said, but if you've seen a few key Australian movies you should be able to recognise them without any trouble.

Unfortunately, this was an extremely low budget production and it shows, with a seemingly endless stream of semi-improvised sequences that spend ages getting to the point, or indeed the plot. It apparently takes them days to get to the beach at all, as the time is filled with hijinks instigated by the brash Boo that aren't particularly funny, but do set him up as a troublemaker early on which will lead to the events that the film closes with. Boo puts the moves on every young woman he meets, from a waitress at a diner who ends up throwing food at him in disgust, to the rather more serious occurence of the teenage girl he meets at a dance.

She is Caroline (Debbie Forman) and is very impressed with this boy from out of town, and she goes on to do something she regrets: sleeping with him, fooled into thinking that he had deeper feelings for her than he actually did. We can see that Boo is heading for a life lesson, although as it turns out it comes a little too late for him, but this comes along just when the film appears to be finishing. Before that, there is more hanging out with the lads to sit through, which would be character building if the characters were a little more interesting. As it is, Sandy is prissy to the end, and Gibson's Scollop is only interested in one thing.

That's right, surfing. It has to be said that this could have made a fair surfing movie if it had wanted to, but in the scenes that do feature the sport they filmmakers were not too lucky with the waves, all of which struggle to reach over the foot-high mark. Even the most amateur surfer could have managed that: Riding Giants this is not, and a potential spot of spectacle leaves you underwhelmed. Scollop telling us that surfing is more a way of life isn't much help either, and you begin to wonder why Sandy went along at all as he doesn't take to the sea or even participate at the local dance they go to. You could be mistaken for believing this isn't leading up to anything much, but there is a would-be shocking climax that sums up the lack of joie de vivre in Summer City, the moral being don't have fun or else, or at least have your fun in strict moderation. It does have interest for the talent involved, but that's about your lot as far as entertainment goes. Music by Phil Butkis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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