Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soul Surfer - Movie Review

While shark attacks remain rare, and even more rarely fatal, they still grab headlines and
garners attention like few other lines in print.  Whether you fear the ocean or thrive on it, those words will definitely get you reading. Where did it happen? What kind of shark? Tell me about the victim? Did they LIVE? Are all questions that have readers scouring the article until the answers are found.

Discovery's Shark Week is also just around the corner (begins August 12th) and most likely more sharks will appear in the news around the same time. People are thinking and talking about sharks, so ride the wave - right?

It is easy to find movies that involve sharks, and while my recommendation of Sharktopus (2010 film with Eric Roberts) is reserved for those who love "D" level movies (Bruce Campbell wouldn't be caught dead in this one) and revel in the unrealistic ridiculousness that is a badge of honor for such films, I went outside the box a bit and found Soul Surfer.  Of course I already knew the basic story of Bethany Hamilton - a young future professional surfer living in Hawaii; in 2003 she was attacked while surfing and lost an arm, but was driven by her passion to surf again anyway. SPOILER ALERT: In real life, Bethany rises above adversity that few people realize and fewer still conquer. So, duh, yeah - she surfs again.

I confess, while I loosely followed the young surfer's story from afar I did not read the book published in 2004.  I knew it became a movie (2011), but with a toddler don't make it to many films these days and missed it in the theaters altogether.  Take a very solid cast that includes an Oscar winner (Helen Hunt), proven actors that have experience in a variety of genres (Dennis Quaid, Craig T. Nelson), a promising starlet in AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia, and many more), toss in American Idol's Carrie Underwood and Kevin Sorbo (yeah, TVs Hercules, same one), and now you have experienced actors ready to work with a heartwarming story.

That's right - heartwarming and inspirational.  The Hamilton family, aside from being avid surfers, also home schooled their kids and were very involved in their local church.  This movie is not about sharks, or even really the ocean from a documentary or conservation stand point. It's not even about the shark.  This film is about one girl following her passion and overcoming all obstacles to reach one goal - to surf.

My favorite line of the entire movie was a simple statement Bethany makes to her father as he is carefully explaining how she must work her way down from an 8'+ long board to a ~5' short board in order to be ready for competitive surfing again.  The line:
"I don't need easy, just possible."

For non-surfers let me explain: I am terrible surfer. I love it and wish I didn't completely bomb, but I totally stink - and I can still manage my 8'6" long board. The shorter the surfboard, the more experienced the surfer.
The general consensus on the Internet Movie Database ( is that Soul Surfer rates about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Mediocre at best.  This all depends on what you expect from the film. It is not Riding with Giants and all about big waves.  It is not a documentary or a horror story.  It is an inspirational feel-good movie with great actors and a beautiful backdrop. So don't expect epic breakthroughs or wild love scenes and you will not be disappointed.  This is a good movie to watch with young kids, knowing at the end everybody leaves feeling better than when they walked in.  If cynical is your general daily attitude, well, then don't expect that to change. No Oscars here, but it is a movie worth watching.

RATING: ~~~1/2 waves (out of 5)

After the movie, try to recall what your passion was as a kid/teen, and embrace it again.  Then ask the kids around you what their passion currently is, encourage it, and be sincere.

My passion was writing- and the ocean.
-Callie Sharkey


Andrea Wilson said...

What a sweet looking movie, I'll have to rent it. I'm sure Jay would like it.

Do you remember what my passion was as a teen? I sure the heck don't. Did I have one?

Callie Sharkey said...

You loved photography... for about 6 months. I think going to movies was always a favorite, actually; that, and anything Celtic captured your attention. Maybe YOU should be critiquing movies!

Jimmy Jarred said...

Awesome film. Thanks to the makers of this movie as it highly touched my heart. I felt uplifted after watching it.
Watch Soul Surfer Online