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4.6 out of 5 stars
Big Wednesday [1978] [DVD]
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2001
This is a breathtaking film from start to finish, be it the boisterous parties that the stars attend, the trip to Tijuana, or the beautiful footage of the ocean and the surfers.
Jan Michael Vincent pulls at your heart strings as the immature alcoholic Matt Johnson who manages to find peace within himself and with his friends, whilst growing up on the beach, and he is ably asisted by Gary Busey and William Katt who star as his chalk and cheese surf buddies.
A movie about growing up, taking responsibilities and the tragedy of war, all set to a beautiful back drop of sandy beaches and glorius ocean waves, and an impressive soundtrack.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2003
For a 25 year old movie this stands up pretty well. It starts off all a bit rose tinted, but goes darker as the main character's paths split, with only their shared love of surfing providing a link to each other.
The cast fit the parts well. Jan Michael Vincent (more famous for his pertually squinting Stringfellow Hawk from Airwolf) is the most talented surfer of the three, but nearly throws it all away to alchohol addiction (not totally removed from real life then).
Gary Busey is the other draft dodger who ends up a drug dealer (which nicely counterparts his role in that other classic surfer movie, Point Break), with the third guy (forget his name) going to vietnam and returning as a war hero.
Overall it's a nice movie showing the friendship between three surfing buddies and how it evolves. And some old school surfing. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
When I first saw this film on release in 1978, many of the critics had panned it with several observing that it was only interesting when in the water, given surfing is its main excitement and the movie subsequently bombed. Looked at again 30 years later (I have in fact seen it several times in between given the cult status it enjoys in UK fringe cinemas), the film's time horizon of mid 1960s to early 1970s following a surfing mad group growing up is nowhere as bad as those critics may have indicated.

Named after the fact that most big surfing swells over the years have occurred on Wednesday, the film by using the surfing culture provides an excellent snapshot of a group of Californian teenagers maturing across the late 1960s and facing up to their changing responsibilities, with its keen observations along the way on the tension with the later hippy movement and the indirect impact of the Vietnam War and its draft on people's lives.

None of the three lead actors (two actual surfers and Gary Busey as the "Masochist" in gonzo mode) were going to be Oscar contenders based on this outing but what makes the performances succeed is the quality of the ensemble playing. The director co-written script given John Milius's other writing credits is a bit clunky in parts (especially the lead personal relationships and the father figure of "Bear"), but since Milius was a surfer from a very young age, he admits in the recent interview included in this Anniversary DVD that it is a very personal movie and an amalgam of many different characters he knew from those days.

Sure the film's surfing scenes still look fantastic 30 years on, especially in widescreen format. The accompanying short Milius interview and his Director commentary (which because of its conversational style works well in conveying his enthusiasm for the subject as well as including lots of personal observations and stories) also makes you realise the difficulties and dangers that were faced in the location shooting of such footage.

Yes, one suspects as has already been seen over the last 30 years that this little gem while bombing on initial release will outlast many other over hyped movies of the same period. This is not just just because of its surfing community following but because it is a lot closer to depicting how it actually was for many in those times.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2003
With the backdrop of incredible surfing scenes, comes the story of 3 guys growing up under the uneasy shadow of the Vietnam war. But life throws up it's own set of problems and hard decisions for the lads to take. And the escape is the water, the swell and the search for the perfect wave. The complexity of the different personalities lends an endearing quality to the whole production and come the end, the magnaninous end, we were all choking for breath. The thumping soundtrack of classic sixties tracks rams it all home of course.
Coming forward to present times, it hasn't gotten any easier. And this wonderful film reminds you that life's a beach, a VW Camper, a board and beer. Enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2000
A classic 1970 surf film. Being a surfer in the 90's and into the new Millennium this film never dates. The film is based around a friendship bought together through a mutual love of searching for the ultimate wave. As the friends go through life's challenges they are always bought back together by there passion of surfing. There are some truly amazing surf scenes featuring some of the top surfers of the 70's.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2006
Even if you're not into surfing, you'll find Big Wednesday a treat. Its ambience is almost a stripped down American Graffiti, also dealing in that film's nostalgia but presenting a more moving, tighter story. Shot through the nostalgia is an elegiac voiceover and grace notes such as the surfing hero of the previous decade becoming forgotten by the present crop of Surfers. It's not downbeat though with a witty truth to the writing and a livewire Gary Busey performance. Events begin to pull friendships apart and Vietnam interrupts the freewheeling lives, the only hope to rekindle youthful spirit and vigour is the dream of the ultimate wave ... the Big Wednesday.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2000
Big Wednesday isn't about surfing, its about friendship, it just happens to be based around surfing. The whole point of the film is about the friendship between the main characters Matt, Jack and Leroy and their long term love for each other and of surfing. The film would of worked with any type of extreme sport say, skateboarding, windsurfing or snowboarding, any sport with no rules that you do for the feeling. If you think this film is about surfing, you either don't have any friends from your youth or you just don't get it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2012
The high hopes and naivety of youth soon lose out to the harsh realities of life. A fleeting moment in young lives and carefree days that soon fly away as the challenges of life kick in. A beautiful panoramic view of life and how fate takes over our loves. Needs to be a blu-ray version of this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2010
Love this movie. Captures surfing and its culture which has changed little since. Characters and stories are well crafted. People age and times change, but the surf is always there and always will be.
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Big Wednesday is a surprisingly good movie. Its not really about surfing, it is about friendship and disillusionment with the American Dream. It follows a bunch of friends in the 1960s who prefer to surf than get press-ganged into the Viet Nam war, but despite their bright dreams, the future becomes tarnished and their friendships become disparate and empty. We follow the central character with a great deal of empathy as he tries to heal wounds and gather his pals again for one final big wave on the Los Angeles coast. If you are actually into surfing then there are some good action shots too.
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