Blue Crush

Movie Information

Genre: Surfing Drama
Director: John Stockwell
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Matthew Davis, Mika Boorem
Rated: PG-13

I have no idea what movie the critics who are fawning over Blue Crush saw, but I’m hard-pressed to believe it’s the same 104 minutes of cliches, tedium and unconvincing effects-work I slogged my way through on Friday night. So far as I’m concerned, this water-logged variant on the Britney Spears’ atrocity, Crossroads, is in the realm of such excruciating movie going experiences as Glitter. From the moment the movie subjects us to a variety of LSD-chrome shots of waves, it’s obvious that this is going to be one of those surfing-as-a-metaphor-for-life efforts. And if that doesn’t induce a groan, there’s a lot more that will. Let’s start with the plot — what there is of it. The film focuses on ace beach-bunny surfer Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth). She has what it takes to be a champion — even if that means living in poverty (hey, these folks can’t even afford sheets) with her surfer friends, and subjecting her 14-year-old doping, partying little sister (Mika Boorem) to the same (where the hell are the social services people?). Or at least she would have what it takes, if she could get over her trauma about being nearly drowned when she wiped out and bashed her head on a rock a few years earlier. (Even if she could forget this, the film isn’t about to let the viewer do so, since director John Stockwell ham-fistedly cuts back to the event on the average of every 10 minutes.) Ah, but into her life comes football player Matt Tollman (Matthew Davis). He likes her spunkiness when she tells off a fellow team member for being a slob, so he engages her and her buddies to give surfing lessons, and then slips her a grand for a week’s lessons — so she naturally tumbles into the sack with him (PG-13 style, i.e., cut to pounding waves). Somehow this — along with Anne Marie’s need to have a man tell her that he wants her not to need to a man tell her what to do (this is known as having it both ways) — seems to mysteriously be viewed as female-empowering by a lot of folks. The bulk of the film (apart from a completely arbitrary class-conscious subplot that vanishes as mystifyingly as it surfaces) centers on whether or not Anne Marie will enter the big surfing competition and whether or not she’ll win. Well, what do you think? Aside from the inane plot, Blue Crush abounds in ridiculous dialogue that’s riddled with “in the know” surfing terms — mostly involving being “in the pipe” — and the usual pseudo-metaphysical yammering engaged in when dealing with obsessions that look pretty shallow from the outside. The much-vaunted special effects did not, I fear, blow me away. Never once did I believe I was watching Bosworth ride the big waves. (The effect was eerily like an improved version of those internet “nudes” of famous people with the obvious cut-and-paste jobs, where someone’s head has been slapped on someone else’s body.) Indeed, the last digitally augmented shot of Anne Marie riding to victory was only marginally better than the rear-screen work that kept Frankie and Annette afloat through all those ’60s surfing musicals. The acting is rarely more than perfunctory — and that’s being kind. Kate Bosworth might be easy on the eyes in a generic Barbie-doll way, but her acting isn’t going to win any awards. The object of her affections, Matt Davis, could give Ben Chaplin some heavy competition in the blandness sweepstakes, given a little time and effort. Michelle Rodriguez is so bogged down in a sea of cliched dialogue. Her obsession with Anne Marie — and her jealousy over the relationship with football boy — might have made for an interesting subtext, but that’s not happening in this brain-dead flick. If you’re a hard-core surfing enthusiast, I suppose there might be some interest for you. Otherwise, I’d suggest a triple feature of Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini as a far more pleasurable — and intellectually rewarding — experience.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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