I didn’t plan this, but here in the crush of Winter I give you a couple of movies about surfing in Hawaii. The actual random pick is Blue Crush from 2002, and since it’s a movie about surfing girls I figured I would throw in Soul Surfer, the 2011 movie about real life surfer girl Bethany Hamilton.
Cowabunga!!! (Which is probably something a real surfer would never say.)
USA – 16 August 2002
Canada – 16 August 2002
UK – 4 April 2003
France – 23 July 2003
Germany – 7 August 2003
So, even though I am a child of Southern California, I am not a surfer. As with all sports, it’s a sport: It requires practice, concentration, endurance, and…how do I put this…not being a complete spazz. Like I said, surfing is a sport therefore I suck at it. Now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t go to the beach and goof off with a boogie board every once in a while, but my knowledge of actual big time surfing is limited to listening to The Beach Boys, repeated viewings with Boodles of the Surf’s Up episode of The Backyardigans, and this movie.
Tania and I actually rented this back in the day, but I forgot about most of it except for one scene (that I’ll talk about in a bit) and how amazing the photography of the surfing is. Whatever you think of the story, the movie is worth watching for the surfing footage alone.
But there is a story, and it succeeds to an extent. Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is a talented surfer who dreams of going pro. She lives in Oʻahu with her friends Eden (Michelle Rodriguez), Lena (Sanoe Lake), and her 14-year-old sister, Penny (Mika Boorem). When she isn’t surfing, she works with Eden and Lena at a resort hotel as a maid. Anne Marie has a chance to compete at The Pipe Masters with the best pro surfers in the world, but she is haunted by a near death experience there, she is also a bit distracted by a guy she just met.
Matt (Matthew Davis) is an NFL football player who is at the hotel with some of his teammates and their WAGs (wives and girlfriends). Matt is conveniently WAGless and he and Anne Marie start a romance. Ann Marie’s friends, especially Eden, think that between her fear and spending too much time with Matt that she is going to miss her chance.
The movie follows tried and true sports movie formulas, in fact you could probably call it a female Rocky with bikinis. Pretty much everybody in the movie has a perfect 0% fat body with one exception: Matt’s teammate Leslie (Faizon Love) has a big linebacker’s body and that might have provided a break from all the skinny asses in the movie, but I did not need to see him in his “nuthuggers.” Also, there’s a scene where Ann Marie “schools” Leslie about how obscenely messy his room is; maybe I’m too sensitive, but watching a white woman confront a black man about his behavior made Tania and I uncomfortable.
The screenplay does have a couple pretty good lines and some surprises, but too often falls into predictability. At one point Matt brings Ann Marie to a dinner, and Ann Marie goes to the Ladies Room. You just know that the other WAGs are going to come into the Ladies Room and she’s going to overhear them talking trash about her. Well, guess what? The other WAGs come into the Ladies Room and she overhears them talking trash about her.
As I said before, the surfing is spectacular though. All of the surfing in the movie is real, special effects were used to paste Bosworth’s face onto the bodies of actual surfers. Kate Bosworth is a lovely young actress, but I wish that Michelle Rodriguez or Sanoe Lake had played the main character; I find them much more interesting, and Lake is actually a professional surfer.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
So Blue Crush is worth watching at least for the surfing, but the best I can give it is…
Random Quote Whore Quote:
Blue Crush is a graminivorous, untippable, committee of a movie! Kate Bosworth is staggering!!!
Sean McNamara (Screenplay & Screen Story)
Deborah Schwartz (Screenplay & Screen Story)
Douglas Schwartz (Screenplay & Screen Story)
Michael Berk (Screenplay & Screen Story)
Matt Allen (Screen Story)
Caleb Wilson (Screen Story)
Brad Gann (Screen Story)
Bethany Hamilton (Book “Soul Surfer”)
Sheryl Berk (Book “Soul Surfer”)
Rick Bundschuh (Book “Soul Surfer”)
USA – 8 April 2011
Canada – 8 April 2011
UK – 23 September 2011
Back in the day when Tania and I were married, she didn’t want to know anything about a movie before she saw it. Conversations would go something like this:
Joe: “Wanna go to a movie tonight?
Tania: “Sure. What’s playing?”
Joe: “There’s this new Tom Hanks movie that looks really good.”
Joe: “He plays a guy who…”
Tania: “Don’t tell me. Let’s go see it.”
Joe: “It’s directed by the same guy who did…”
Tania: “OK. I want to see it. Shut up.”
I’m a little slow, but after a while I figured it out. All she wanted to know about a movie was where it was playing and when it started. She wanted to be totally immersed in a movie and didn’t want to have any preconceived notions going in. I can see her point, and I don’t read as many reviews as I used to so I do get that experience occasionally.
So…why am I telling you all this? Well, I try very hard not to give away any spoilers in these here reviews, and what I’m about to tell you probably isn’t technically a spoiler since it’s kinda the whole point of the movie, but if you are like Tania you might not want to read the next sentence…
In October of 2003 (about a year after Blue Crush came out) an up and coming 13 year old surfer named Bethany Hamilton was surfing with friends on Tunnels Beach in Kauai when she was attacked by a 15 foot long tiger shark who ripped off her left arm just below the shoulder.
There, I said it. Do you hate me now? This event takes place 22 minutes into the movie so there’s a lot more to it. Bethany wrote about the attack and her recovery/comeback in her 2004 book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board, which is the basis for the movie.
Here’s the thing: Bethany Hamilton is a very strong young lady with a deep faith in God, she and her family are devout Christians. This movie not only doesn’t downplay their faith, it shows it in detail. I am of two minds about this. On one hand, I’m happy to see faith portrayed on the big and little screens. It is a part of our lives, even those who don’t believe. On the other hand, the “Christian But” side of me – old Mr. Cynic himself – can’t help but note that the movie is distributed by Affirm Films, a subsidiary of Sony whose goal is to
squeeze the wallets of Christians market films that “inspire, uplift, and entertain audiences.”
Affirm Films has also brought us films like Fireproof and Facing the Giants, both of which people at my Southern Baptist church were crazy about. They didn’t produce Soul Surfer though, in fact some of the execs at Mandalay were concerned about some of the blatantly Christian content. Yeah…this is the same company that released a Dennis Rodman/Jean-Claude Van Damme ”vehicle” in the 90s.
Remember when I wrote about Christian Movie Reviewers? And how that is actually a thing? Of course you do. Well, they also have mixed thoughts about this one. The movie does have positive values and affirms faith, but the girls wear bikinis and belly buttons make God cry.
Whatever…about the actual movie. It’s pretty good. Maybe it’s a little heavy handed on the faith and overcoming adversity stuff, but it worked for me. It made me cry, not that it’s hard to make me cry. I’m a cryer.
AnnaSophia Robb plays Bethany and does a good job. You have to suspend disbelief a little bit due to the fact that Bethany Hamilton was 13 when the attack happened and Robb was 17 during filming. It is a biopic, so some of the events/names/etc are changed. We’ve gone over this before, you know the drill.
Dennis Quaid plays Bethany’s Dad and Helen Hunt plays her Mom. Man I used to have the biggest crush on Helen Hunt back in the Mad About You days. I talked to somebody who used to work on the show who said that she was a huge diva and nobody liked her. I assume that the internet confirms this, but I’m too lazy to check. Oh Jeeves, do be a good lad and find out if Helen was a “rhymes with.” Jeeves is worthless these days.
Obviously quite a bit of special effects work went into digitally removing Robb’s arm. Bethany Hamilton did all the surfing scenes, and they are pretty great, but Blue Crush seems to have more surfing in it.
While I was writing this, I got an e-mail from an environmental group (every tree hugger/bleeding heart charity on Earth has my e-mail address) called Save the Sharks. Is it in bad taste for me to assume that this is not Bethany’s favorite charity? Does she watch Shark Week on Discovery Channel? Does she like the song Mack the Knife? Has she ever heard of the song Mack the Knife? Does she watch the last scene of Jaws over and over again yelling, “Smile you son of a..!”
No, she’s a good Christian girl. She’s forgiven the shark.
I, on the other hand, am probably going straight to hell for writing all this crap.
OK, so right about now you are yelling at your computing device. You are saying “Dagnabit! I’m on my way to the damn video store, just tell me which VHS to rent!” Because, apparently you’re now a grizzled World War I veteran. And it’s 1986.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
Of the two of these movies, I would have to give Soul Surfer the edge. It might lay it on a little thick at times, but it has real heart behind it and the character’s victory seems genuine. That’s of course, because it is.
All incredibly inappropriate kidding aside, Bethany Hamilton really is an inspirational rock star. Can you imagine? A shark rips her friggin arm off and she’s back surfing three weeks later! I would have moved to Kansas and refused to even get in a bathtub again. Ever.
I’m giving Soul Surfer a…
Random Quote Whore Quote:
Soul Surfer is a nonpinaceous, side, analogue of a movie! AnnaSophia Robb is soapiest!!!