A story of two guys Ritchie Lee (Lenny Henry) and John Carloff (John Shea) who team up to start a mobile soul disco after converting an old ice cream van into what I would describe as the pope mobile with attitude things start to take a turn for the worse.
After firstly being booked for a geriatrics evening entertainment with Ritchie saying “How was I supposed to know the bloke just asked if we were a '60s disco”.
Then getting their first proper gig …no not a posh house party in a Wirral mansion but a wedding reception in a Kirkby pub…Ritchie retorts “KIRKBY? Bloody ell it will cost us £41 in life insurance! C’mon man Kirkby is bad news. Wedding receptions worse news. A wedding reception in Kirkby is a disaster! There’s always some knob head going through your records and there’s always a fight.” Still, the pair turn up and as Ritchie predicts it kicks off big style, so they make their getaway - quick - only to find the van breaks down on the way.
Ritchie then introduces John to Kecks (Postlethwaite) a British Rail buffet car attendant with high ambitions who sold the van to Ritchie. After a quick drink and a French Revolution, Kecks tells them to “take it to our kid's in the morning and he will fix it free of charge.” Then offers them a bit of paid work moving some gear from his lock up.
The following night Ritchie and John arrive outside Kecks's lock up to find a strange noise coming from within. ”What’s he doing in there, drilling for oil?” Ritchie queries.
Kecks appears with a number of parcels which they load into the van and take to Kecks's flat. When they arrive, Kecks tells the lads to go on up to his flat while he locks up their van, but sneakily hides a parcel in the freezer compartment.
When the parcels are safely in Kecks's flat he gives the lads £20 and says, “Errr and if anything else goes wrong with the van, tough shit!“ and closes the door on them. Ritchie and John then head for the nearest pub, commenting how one minute you're down and then you're up again. As they order their beer, the bartender notes “and then your right back down again!” as he shows the £20 note as an obvious fake.
They hurry back to Kecks's flat and arrive just as he is trying to leave wearing a poor quality disguise. They force Kecks to tell them what’s going on and he tells them that he has stolen some printing plates for £20 notes from a heavy duty villain in London and is about to skip the country with his little bundle of counterfeit notes, but he’s hidden the plates in the van and was going to ring the lads when he was abroad to ask if they would deliver them to a contact in Parkestone.
But the bloke won’t be there till later in the week so they would have to sit on the plates for a few days. “That’s great, that is! You piss off out of Liverpool and we have to hang about and listen for cockney accents,” Ritchie points out. Kecks replies, “You’re a mobile disco, stay mobile." After being offered £1000 for delivery and another £1000 on arrival, they reluctantly agree. When Kecks asks for a lift to the airport, they say “Not a chance,“ and leave.
As they leave, they pass a couple of guys on the stairs who make a comment about the weather. After a few moments, John and Richie realize that these men had cockney accents, so they jump in their van and head off to Parkestone. As they have a few days to travel, they decide to zig-zag to their destination because they are worried about being pursued by the cockney gangsters and the police. They encounter various comical situations and romantic moments on their travels across country to deliver the plates. On catching a news bulletin, they are startled to discover that the police are looking for two men in connection with Kecks' murder.
They stay at a small hotel, complete with llama in the garden, and Richie implies to the hotel owner's pretty daughter, Susan(Lunghi) that he and John are musicians travelling with Earth, Wind and Fire. Richie is obviously very attracted to Susan, but it is John's bed that Susan visits in the night. After a passionate encounter, John admits to Susan that he and Richie aren't anything to do with Earth, Wind and Fire and are currently working as DJs. He then admits that he is actually a pilot with the United States Air Force, but has gone AWOL. He tells Susan that if he remains absent for much longer he will be classed as a deserter.
After leaving the hotel and stopping off to refuel, Richie offers a lift to an American soldier named Curtis whose car has broken down. John is very uncomfortable with this arrangement because Curtis needs a lift to a US Air Force base. John becomes increasingly agitated, particularly when Curtis insists that he and Richie join him for a beer inside the base. Curtis then invites them to perform a DJ gig in the soldiers' canteen bar. Richie is very excited to perform there, but cannot understand John's reluctance and performs alone. During the gig, Curtis takes to the stage as singer with the TAC Wing R&B Allstars, singing, Knock on Wood which John clearly enjoys and he begins to relax a little. Curtis invites volunteers to perform with the Allstars and Richie persuades John to join him on stage where the two sing Driftaway to rapturous applause. One of the soldiers in the audience comments that he recognizes John.
John and Richie leave the base and their friendship of two weeks is clearly strengthened by the experience. They continue on their journey to Parkestone only to discover that the two cockney gangsters have arrived first and murdered the recipient. The gangsters threaten them with a sawn-off shotgun, but are then plunged into a vat of grain when Richie pulls a nearby leaver and their feet are seen protruding from a lorry load of grain leaving the processing plant.
The Police arrive and Richie realizes that they have come for John when he sees military personnel getting out of the police car. John gets into the car without fuss, asking Richie to look after his records. Richie then discovers the plates that Kecks hid in the fridge in their van and smiles to himself.
The last scene occurs months later at the Military Detention Centre in Massachusetts, USA. Richie is resplendent in white, with a cowboy-style hat, fringed leather coat and boots, and a very large white American car. He is there to collect John who has been detained as a punishment for going AWOL. John is surprised to see Richie and the difference in him since they last met. Richie explains that he was "left some money" and that they have a gig in Pasadena. John points out that Pasadena is 5000 miles away, so Richie replies that they had better get a move on, playing some fantastic Motown tunes on the way. The two friends depart and the car is seen driving away into the distance as the credits roll.
The film has a strong following, but contractual problems and the cost of licensing the soundtrack music have prevented it from being distributed on video or DVD.
Tracks in order (They appear in the Show)"Ain't That Peculiar" ~ Marvin Gaye
"Heaven Must Have Sent You" ~ The Elgins
"Money" ~ Barratt Strong
"It Should've Been Me" ~ Gladys Knight
"It's the Same Old Song" ~Four tops
"Just a Little Misunderstanding" ~ The Contours
"Going to a Go-Go" ~ The Miracles
"Danger Heartache Dead Ahead" ~ The Marvelettes
"Nowhere to Run" ~Martha & The Vandellas
"(I'm a) Road Runner" ~ Junior Walker & The All Stars
"Needle In A Haystack" ~ The Velvelettes
"When I'm Gone" ~ Brenda Holloway
"Reach Out I'll Be There" ~ The Four Tops
"Headline News" ~ Edwin Starr
"I've Passed This Way Before" ~ Jimmy Ruffin
"This Old Heart Of Mine" ~ Isley Brothers
"Knock On Wood" ~ Curtis Duchamp & the 48 TAC Wing R&B Allstars
"Drift Away" ~ Shea,Henry& the 48 TAC Wing R&B Allstars
"(I Know) I'm Losing You" ~ The Temptations
"Can I Get A Witness" ~ Marvin Gaye