This flick is a bad one. This is one of those zero-budget plodding messes that would have found a ready home on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s one of those flicks that lacks most endearing characteristics, and only survives because it featured a future Hollywood star.
Summer City, from way back in 1977, is the first feature film on Mel Gibson’s IMDb page. He’s one of four main characters, all friends, who head out from 1950s Sydney for some fun and sun at an Australian beach.
How do I know the movie takes place in the 1950s? Director Christopher Fraser and producer/writer Phil Avalon helped us viewers with that, by providing an opening credits stock footage montage of scenes from the 1950s. This extensive sequence is amazing, because so much of the footage seems to have been chosen at random — the only prerequisite being that it looks like it was shot in the ’50s. How else to explain the repeated use of footage of a long-distance runner in training? It has nothing to do with the plot. This movie is about surfing blokes.
The opening credits montage isn’t the only spot in the film that uses stock footage. In fact, this is a stock footage-heavy film, much of its usage nonsensical. This much usage of stock footage points to Summer City being a very thin film, and it certainly is. Despite a spartan running time of just 83 minutes, the filmmakers seemed to have a hard time filling up the movie. Besides the stock footage, the first act consists of the four main blokes road tripping to the beach. Little at all happens in this sequence, and none of it relates to the plot.
As for that plot, there doesn’t seem to be much of one until there’s about half an hour left in the movie. Before a pivotal plot point that, for some reason, I don’t feel like spoiling, the film is just the normal shenanigans of the younger set, à la American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused, only boring.
It would be easy to blame the miniscule budget, but that’s letting the filmmakers off the hook. Besides Gibson, this film featured Steve Bisley and John Jarratt, who both went on to long careers as actors in Australia, so it’s not like the film was that short on acting talent. But the actors are all this flick has. There is barely anything else.
Summer City is an artifact. Just about every famous actor or actress has one or more of these lurking in their pasts. There’s no indication at all that the stars of this film would have any future in show business. Sure, Gibson was a hell of a face back then, but faces in film are a dime a dozen.
This film has zero to recommend it, even though it does show signs of life in the final act. Maybe, just maybe, Mel Gibson obsessives can find something worthy here, but I couldn’t. I can’t even find a reason to stretch out this review to 600 words. Summer City is a far worse film than Alien: Resurrection.