Wipe­out for surf fam­ily tragedy

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - “Dawn Pa­trol.” No MPAA rat­ing. 1 hour, 27 min­utes. Play­ing: AMC Bur­bank Town Cen­ter 8. — Katie Walsh

This surf-f la­vored fam­ily tragedy feels a bit like it was re­verse-en­gi­neered to fit the ti­tle of “Dawn Pa­trol” — surfer lingo for an early morn­ing ses­sion. The film, di­rected by vet­eran film­maker Daniel Petrie Jr., at­tempts to stuff too many el­e­ments into the premise.

Scott East­wood stars as John, an af­fa­ble surfer and board shaper who must grap­ple with his pro-surfer brother’s death and sub­se­quent fam­ily fall­out in their tight-knit beach com­mu­nity. For some rea­son, this is set in 2008, against a pe­riod of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, im­mi­gra­tion ten­sion and the Iraq war

Jeff Fa­hey and Rita Wil­son star as his kooky par­ents, their per­for­mances cranked to 11. In fact, most of the char­ac­ters swing wildly from mood to mood, from one mo­ment to the next.

There’s a sort of ’90s Bmovie throw­back feel to the film in style and tone, but also in the not-so-pro­gres­sive de­pic­tions of women (ei­ther ra­bid mama bears or sex-crazed beach babes) and peo­ple of color (specif­i­cally, peo­ple of Mex­i­can de­scent). Even­tu­ally, the taut, beach-set crime tale de­volves into an epic Greek tragedy with no one es­cap­ing un­scathed or in­cul­pa­ble.

As over-the-top op­er­atic and in­ex­pli­ca­ble as “Dawn Pa­trol” can be, pro­ducer and star East­wood re­mains cap­ti­vat­ing and charis­matic, ul­ti­mately serv­ing as a ground­ing el­e­ment within the swirl of emo­tional drama and al­most sav­ing the film from go­ing over­board.

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