Let me start out here with full disclosure. I believe, as a critic, it’s important to cop to any personal biases you have or special treatment you receive, so I’m telling you upfront that I saw this flick at the premiere at the Universal Amphitheatre and yes, I did get into the premiere party, too. HOWEVER, even though I’ve taken shots at other Internet critics for that sort of thing on this site, you shouldn’t get too worked up about it. I went only as the guest of a friend who’s a cable executive, and our seats were so far back in the balcony, it was like watching a movie at Mann’s Chinese from about two stories over the Hamburger Hamlet across the street. My primary memory of the event is not even the screening itself but a supposedly alcoholic mixed drink, also named “Blue Crush”, served out of gigantic jugs. What the film and its namesake share is a persistent weakness likely caused by each being crapped out for mass consumption. The one big difference, though, is that the beverage actually turned out to be green, which is one more surprise than I got out of the movie.
Sure, the source material, Susan Orlean’s article “Surf Girls of Maui” for Outside Magazine, was probably quite good. Unfortunately, co-writer Lizzy Weiss and co-writer/director John Stockwell seem to have fed the thing into some kind of cheap software program where you enter the details, they’re filtered through “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, and outs comes another hack Hollywood screenplay. The result is the kind of thing American International Pictures used to churn out for drive-ins in the 1960’s only not entertaining. With apologies to Joseph Campbell, the formula goes something like this:
You have your hero (Kate Bosworth) who has a lot of raw talent for some kind of activity (surfing, skating, skiing, bowling, origami, whatever) from a remote land (Maui, Tatooine, somewhere like that) who has not yet matured. Our hero suffers a defeat (hits head on a reef while surfing, has a meltdown, loses hand in a ball-return machine, etc.) Hero must now take a journey to overcome many new obstacles (fear of hitting head on reef, vapid love interest) to become a man (or at least a less whiny girl) and return to the scene of previous failure to fight for victory (major surfing competition). In keeping with Hollywood tradition, the leads are white with people of color and/or ethnicity relegated to extras, minor speaking roles, supportive best friends, and/or comic relief. There’s also a troubled kid sister (Mika Boorem) our hero must protect and raise. I guess that kind of makes it like Lilo & Stitch, only without the style, the aliens (Michelle “The Scowler” Rodriguez doesn’t count), or a reason to remotely give a s**t.
Something like this was probably pitched as “extreme sports” featuring young chicks in bikinis. With this bland cast of nobodies and its PG-13 rating, the picture fails to work on even that level. Too bad. I’m sure that an interesting film could easily be made about girl surfers, this just ain’t it. I hope the next time I get roped into another night like this, they make the drinks stronger, too.