Film Review: ‘Soul Surfer’ Simply Too Bland For True Inspiration

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CHICAGO – In the pantheon of modern girl surfer movies there is “Blue Crush” and…”Blue Crush 2.” “Soul Surfer” is different, it is based on a true story of a tremendous physical loss for a competitive surfer, and her family’s strength in dealing with the crisis. With so much drama, in fact, its surprising that the film is as flavorless as dry toast. Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

The problem is not with the essence of the story, it is with the decision to present it through the sport of surfing (limited interest) and any human reaction to the tragedy, except for the old courage-and-pick-her-up thread that permeates all cliched sports movies. Soul Surfer could have been better had it been more honestly emotional, but the production didn’t want that messiness in the way of hanging ten.

AnnaSophia Robb is Bethany Hamilton, a typical Hawaiian girl whose passions lie with the water and competitive surfing. Her parents are Tom and Cheri Hamilton (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt) who provide the solid foundation for the love of the curl, as they were once also competitive surfers. They all live in the paradise of Hawaii, and Bethany even finds time to volunteer through her church on various missionary trips through another congregation member, Sarah (Carrie Underwood).

All is well until a tragic incident changes everything. While practicing surfing with her best friend Alana (Lorraine Nicholson), out of the blue a shark reaches Bethany and severs her arm to the shoulder. In shock and in recovery, she must find a way to regain a normal life, which includes her love of the waves and surfing. While getting better and fighting depression, the church reaches out to give her purpose, and she joins a mission to the tsunami-ravaged shores of Indonesia.

Finding her inspiration, she comes back to Hawaii more determined than ever to rejoin the competitive surfer’s world. It all comes down to the big tournament, where her determination will take on the waves and take her that much closer to feeling whole again.

“Soul Surfer” opens everywhere on April 8th. Featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Carrie Underwood, Lorraine Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid and Craig T. Nelson. Screenplay by Sean McNamara, Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz and Michael Berk, directed by Sean McNamara. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Soul Surfer”

Surf Family Hamilton: Dennis Quaid (Tom), Helen Hunt (Cheri) and AnnaSophia Robb (Bethany) in ‘Soul Surfer’
Surf Family Hamilton: Dennis Quaid (Tom), Helen Hunt (Cheri) and AnnaSophia Robb (Bethany) in ‘Soul Surfer’
Photo credit: Brookwell-McNamara Entertainment

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Soul Surfer”

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