7 Movies Which Prove That Hollywood Will Never Understand Surfing
Terrible plotlines, stilted dialogue, wooden acting - these have it all!
“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea."
And so Gerard Butler's voice over opens Chasing Mavericks. He is not just starting off a script that was described by the Telegraph as a “neap tide of mush," but is effectively squatting down and adding another turd to the pile that is the Hollywood Surf Movie.
In fact such is the density and stench of the pile it seems that it is impossible to make a decent big budget movie about surfing.
"Gerard Bulter was effectively squatting down and adding another turd to the pile that is the Hollywood Surf Movie."
The only quality surf film made by Hollywood was Big Wednesday, and that opened more than 40 years ago. Don’t believe us?
Well, let's put the gloves on and sift through the pile.
In God's Hands
You have to give credit to any movie that can almost destroy the credibility of Shane Dorian, surfing’s most credible man.
Matt George’s script purported to offer, “An introspective and international journey of a surfer who is struggling with his success on the pro tour and his inner need to be a big wave soul surfer."
We quickly find that Dorian’s acting is a wooden as an alaia and the clunky drama and overwrought emotion mean you’d probably rather get a Jaws set on the head than watch it twice.
Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze are the protagonists in a film that tells the story of a roving band of big wave surfers who rob banks to pay for their surf travel expenses.
Kinda cool, huh? Unless you are a surfer of course. Perhaps no other film has taught so many non-surfers that surfers are basically dicks and furthermore dicks with criminal intent.
"Perhaps no other film has taught so many non-surfers that surfers are basically dicks."
The stereotypical surf philosophy is hammered home in quotes like,“It’s not tragic to die doing what you love. If you want the ultimate, you got to be willing to pay the ultimate price."
Almost in the so-bad-it’s-good category, North Shore tells the highly believable story of Rick Cane, who has never seen the ocean but by virtue of winning an Arizona wavepool competition gains entry into the Pipe Masters.
"So-awful-their-good cameos from Occy, Rod Page and Laird Hamilton add some laughs."
So-awful-their-good cameos from Occy, Rod Page and Laird Hamilton add some laughs but with dialogue as heavy as a Third Reef Pipe washthrough and acting that's laugh out loud bad, we are pretty sure no film students will be writing essays on this one for a while.
Which moves us long nicely to Blue Crush, which is simply North Shore, with ovaries. A young professional surfer played by Kate Bosworth has to overcome her fear of the dreaded Pipeline at a big contest.
Will she get back on the Pipe horse? Will she secure the love of her Haole boyfriend and survive the beatings of gnarly Hawaii locals? Will she win the competition in the dying minutes of the film?
The answer of course is yes, but you already knew that from about the third minute.
"The cliche meter is set to 11."
Credit is due for promoting women surfing and for the actual surf sequences (Hawaiian surfer Noah Budroe donned a bikini and blonde wig and charged 10 foot Pipe), but once again the cliche meter is set to 11 and, unless you are 15 year old girl, Blue Crush is mostly just plain embarrassing.
Surf Nazis Must Die
Okay this is hardly big budget Hollywood, and at least the storyline is fairly uhm... original.
In an apocalyptic future, Adolf, the “Führer of the new beach," takes advantage of the post earthquake chaos by fighting off several rival surfer gangs to seize control of the surf zone.
One of the victims' grandmother breaks out of her retirement home armed with grenades and AK-47s (“Taste some of Mama's home cookin', Adolf!") and exacts bloody vengeance.
"A grandmother breaks out of her retirement home armed with grenades and AK-47s."
Reviewer Janet Maslin wrote, "Not even the actors' relatives will find this interesting." She was right and the awful editing and atrocious filming didn’t help.
It does however continue the Hollywood trend of treating surfers like vicious thugs. But at least there was no showdown at Pipeline.
The story of the discovery of Mavericks was already covered well in Stacey Peralta’s Riding Giants.
So the execs turned to the story of Jay Moriarity, one of the youngest surfers to ever gain a respected place in the lineup.
Gerald Butler, who plays Moriarity’s reluctant mentor “Frosty", almost drowned in the filming of the movie.
"Gerald Butler, who plays Moriarity’s reluctant mentor “Frosty", almost drowned in the filming of the movie."
Unfortunately he survived to go on to make this turkey, which despite some incredible water action footage (three RED cameras did die in the process apparently) this is over-dramatic, formulaic rubbish that fails to capture the spirit of the Mav’s crew or big wave surfing in general.
Funnily enough it also doesn’t mention the fact that Moriarity died at 23 freediving in placid waters of a Maldives resort.
It seems that Hollywood ain’t done yet. Next off the rank is Ride, written, directed and starring Helen Hunt.
Hunt plays a New York City magazine editor who takes off after her free-spirited son when he ditches NYU to become a surfer in California.
"The pile grows."
Luke Wilson plays the actress' surf instructor love interest, "who brings her to life in every way." And it has an IMDB rating of 5.8 after being released last year.
Yep, the pile grows.