CJ and Damien have smiles to match the sunshine of their workplaces. Likable as these young men are, the movie about their lives can be grating. For example, a running commentary about the difficulty everyone has in telling CJ and Damien apart is meant to provide insight into their appeal. Yet, what is supposed to be endearing becomes very tiresome very quickly. Furthermore, to hammer home the point (as if it’s groundbreaking that identical twins can be tough to tell apart), Purser gives us a twin expert to supply us with academic insights into the psychology that exists in the minds of identical twins. While interesting, this expert’s presence is jarring and extraneous, distracting the viewer from the much more interesting and gnarly Jeff Spicoli-types or people who otherwise inhabit the Hobgood’s world.
“…to supply us with academic insights into the psychology that exists in the minds of identical twins.”
As well-intentioned as the filmmakers are in showcasing the dedication and drive of the brothers – and they certainly do via heavy footage of the two riding waves in locations like Bali and Tahiti – the movie breaks no new documentary ground. The entire film is composed of talking-head interviews and ample archival footage. The boys recount several defining competitions in their careers, and family members provide context at certain points in the brothers’ lives. There are moments where it can logistically be difficult to tell exactly where we are in the timeline. It would have been helpful if Purser had included location and time stamps since it is a rarity that anyone expressly indicates when a particular event is taking place. And since the men have that enviable look of windswept eternal youth, it’s even trickier to determine where we are or when we are.
Aside from the undeniably astounding surfing footage, the film does excel when it highlights the blood-is-thicker-than-water bond the two brothers share while still making clear the sometimes painful sibling rivalry that exists in all siblings, twins or not. However, it’s evident by the film’s end that the same material could have been covered just as effectively in a less-bloated film. If you cut much of the commenting about how tough it is to tell the two apart, the movie could have shaved off about a half-hour and been a much more streamlined product.
And Two If By Sea could easily be a one-hour special on ESPN.
"…CJ and Damien have smiles to match the sunshine of their workplaces."