Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:43 - Released 8/16/02

If it's possible to make a serious movie about surfing, I suppose John Stockwell's Blue Crush is as close as you can get. You have to forgive me; I have the same reaction to all sports movies—I have trouble caring about the trials and tribulations of some buffed out superhero or team who may or may not make it to the finals. But I guess there are some humans who actually get emotionally involved in sports, like surfing, and Blue Crush is definitely their movie.

Written by Lizzy Weiss and director Stockwell (based on the Outside magazine article "Surf Girls of Maui" by Susan Orlean), the film follows the comeback pursuit of Maui (Hawaii) native Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth), a twenty-something who once held the title of Greatest Girl Surfer Around, but lost her momentum after an accident in which she hit her head on a rock and nearly drowned. But she's determined to compete in the upcoming Pipemasters Tournament, a competition dominated by men, and win back a place near the top of everyone's list of favorite girl surfers. She is supported by her two friends, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Kauai native Sanoe Lake), and her younger sister Penny (Mika Boorem), who all live with her in a rundown apartment, eat Twinkies, and watch surfing competitions on TV. While Penny goes to high school, Anne Marie and the others work as hotel maids and surf during their off-time. But when an incident with a hotel guest gets her fired, Anne Marie is forced to find other work. She agrees to teach surfing lessons to a vacationing NFL quarterback named Matt (Matthew Davis), and that's when her concentration starts slipping. Against the wishes of Eden, who really thinks she has the technique to win Pipemasters, she begins spending more and more time with Matt, teaching him how to work the pipe and letting him surf in her waves. If you catch my drift.

The acting is generally not bad in this movie (much of it seems ad-libbed; that which isn't is often strained and awkward), but the real star is the camerawork. The surfing footage, of which there is plenty, is truly astounding, with the camera going over, under, and around the board, sometimes continuously, intercutting under- and overwater views with aerial footage, and some shots where the camera is attached to the board or even hand-held by the surfer. Despite the fact that the length of these scenes far exceeded my interest in them, I have to admit that director Stockwell's filming technique (with the considerable help of cinematographer David Hennings and editor Emma E. Hickox) makes them thrilling and beautiful. The final Pipemasters competition sequence features cameos by several famous female surfing champions, including Keala Kennelly, Kate Skarratt, Megan Abubo, and Rochelle Ballard (some appearing as themselves, some doubling as Bosworth's stunt performers). Again, if you're into it, dude, this is your movie. ***½

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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