It's about life - not "lifestyle"
I'm not going to go "Joe Hollywood" on you in this review, striving to make myself sound like some big-league reviewer of "the cinema", hoping to get a fluffy  blurb from this bit in a newspaper ad. I'm going to tell you to look up at the page header and re-read the motto: It's about life - not "lifestyle". Our motto applies to the much-anticipated BLUE CRUSH, which I saw this Tuesday afternoon, August 27, 2002.  I haven't read any surf-media reviews of the film yet, preferring to see it without preconceived notions beyond the alt.surfing broadsides ("The chicks are all flat" etc.) which are always best to be taken with humor and salt.

I'm calling it the best movie about surfing by people who didn't grow up in the sport. There is a case to be made that it is better than the frequently maligned and recently revived BIG WEDNESDAY, but since BIG WEDNESDAY was a fictionalized version of a semi-real situation I don't think any comparasion is really fair to either movie. What BLUE CRUSH outwardly most closely resembles is NORTH SHORE, a frequently lamented take on north shore surfing and the psuedo-star curf culture. While NORTH SHORE actually had some surface details ringing fairly true, and an updated RIDE THE WILD SURF contest storyline, it never seemed to penetrate the surface of things. As for IN GOD'S HANDS, well, there was no "there" there, if you get my meaning.

BLUE CRUSH succeeds because, like in the best of BIG WEDNESDAY, it is a story about people told with wit, feeling, and if I may be so bold...soul. It rings true. It is set on the North Shore of Oahu but could just as easily be set in Florida, California, France, or Australia. It does have a contest sub-plot, which requires it to be located in some established venue, but the stories told are universal. There are some things which are a bit bogus, but it would be nit-picking to hit them. The only example worth mentioning is the notion that one of the four lead girls is a board builder (and how many shapers shut off their planers while they leave them resting on a blank?). Unlikely at her age, and at this point her gender; yet in the course of the story her character is set up as a former competitor who realized she wasn't "potential best-in-world class", and logically a gravitation into craft from atheletics makes perfect sense...just a little speeded up here.

This, thankfully, isn't a Rah Rah Girl Power embarassment. They are just surfers, not really "girl surfers". The surfing action is always shown  within context of story, so it doesn't jarringly break off into gratituious surf action - we have videos for that. It has unforced humor (Sanoe Lake is the breakout actress in this one - funny, believeable, in character at all times. Even in the dreaded contest excitement scenes, when she excited and repeatedly hugs the lead character's young sister, it looks totally real.). It does have the usual romance subplot thing happening, but what the's a summer movie and the actresses are stunners. The strength of the film is in the characters and their relationships with each other, and it may even be groundbreaking in dealing with the subject of 60's/70's burnout absentee parents.

I've made some comments about this movie in advance of it's release, and the advertising, but the fact is that after seeing the film I wish I did enter that contest to win Kate's bikini. Beyond the obviously twisted nature of winning the star's garment, it would not be a bad thing to remember that Hollywood actually did something well and good. Go see it, it won't hurt a bit. And it certainly won't hurt surfing to have this out there.
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