Smells like teen spirit
PRAISE the Lord and wax your board, ’ cos here comes the Godliest wave-ridin’ movie ever made. This is not to knock Soul Surfer for sticking to the courage of its convictions, for indeed it was the faith and family values instilled in teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton from an early age that helped her cope with a shark attack at age 13.
Put simply, Soul Surfer has a true story to tell – based on Hamilton’s autobiography – and the young woman’s belief in herself and a higher power are key truths to the tale.
So it would be downright petty to dismiss the film just because it might get a little Jesus-y.
There is universal inspiration to be taken from Hamilton’s remarkable experience.
The first act starts by establishing Hamilton ( played by AnnaSophia Robb) as a typically wholesome, ukuleleplaying, wave-slaying Hawaiian teen.
Shortly after securing sponsorship with Rip Curl , Hamilton suffers a near-fatal shark attack during a training session.
Squeamish viewers should not be too alarmed. Soul Surfer is no 127 Hours. This harrowing yet pivotal scene is over very quickly.
The aftermath is what really counts. Having lost most of an arm and more than 60 per cent of her blood, Hamilton fights back to reclaim her life in emphatic style.
In a matter of months she recalibrates her surfing style and picks up where she left off, resuming an entree to the ultracompetitive pro circuit that eventually brings her well-earned fame and fortune.
As a film that definitely has its heart in the right place, you can’t knock Soul Surfer on the grounds of gathering all respect for Hamilton’s achievements.
However, it would be wrong to overlook the often bland screenplay. It’s rife with stilted dialogue and sudden cutaways to jerky, music-driven surfing montages.
Thankfully, experienced hands such as Dennis Quaid ( pictured with Robb) and Helen Hunt ( playing Hamilton’s supportive and rather cool parents) do enough to guide viewers past the shallows and towards the film’s deeper concerns. And if you look closely enough, you just might notice Hamilton herself, moonlighting as Robb’s standin out there on the waves. This is where she surely belongs.
Director: Sean McNamara ( Bratz: The Movie) Stars: AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Kevin Sorbo, Carrie Underwood, Lorraine Nicholson Refusing to accept the waves goodbye