Why Hollywood can't do surf movies

Why Hollywood can’t do surf movies: Kate Bosworth, center, takes to Pipeline. Sort of. Photo Universal Studios

Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt recently tweeted that her new film, “Ride,” shot last year in Venice Beach, California, and New York, is almost ready for release. Written, directed, and starring Hunt, she plays a New York City magazine editor who takes off after her free-spirited son when he ditches NYU to become a surfer in California. Luke Wilson plays the actress’ surf instructor/love interest, "who brings her to life in every way."

Frankly, the whole premise scares me a little. In over 50 years of interaction, Hollywood and surfing haven't really gotten along. In fact, with the exception of 1975's “Big Wednesday” and (arguably, but not according to me) “Point Break,” oh, and “Surf's Up,” most of Hollywood's attempts at tackling surfing have ended in disaster. Here are five movies that have made surfers cringe, and exemplify why Hollywood can’t do surf movies

“Blue Crush”
A young professional surfer played by Kate Bosworth (pictured above) has to overcome her fear of the dreaded Pipeline at a big contest. Will she ever surf Pipe again? Will she secure the love of her haole boyfriend? Will she win the competition in the dying minutes of the film? The answers to all of these is yes, something you fathom from about the third minute. Credit is due for promoting women’s surfing and for the actual surf sequences (Hawaiian surfer Noah Johnson donned a bikini and blonde wig and charged 10-foot Pipe), but once again the cliché meter is set to 11 and, unless you are a 15-year-old girl, “Blue Crush” is mostly just plain embarrassing. This, and the mere $50 million in box office sales, didn't stop them from making a sequel, however.

Why Hollywood can't do surf movies

“Chasing Mavericks” is a good example of why Hollywood can’t do surf movies.

“Chasing Mavericks”
"We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea." And so the Gerard Butler voice over opens “Chasing Mavericks” and a script that was described by the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper as a "neap tide of mush." Somehow this movie takes the interesting story of teenage Mavericks charger Jay Moriarity and some of the best surf sequences ever shot on film and make them entirely unwatchable.

Why Hollywood can't do surf movies

“North Shore” is a good example of why Hollywood can’t do surf movies.

“North Shore”
Almost in the so-bad-it's-good category, 1987’s “North Shore” tells the highly believable story of Rick Cane, who has never seen the ocean, but by virtue of winning an Arizona wavepool competition gains entry into the Pipe Masters. So-awful-they’re-good cameos from Mark Occhilupo, Rod Page, and Laird Hamilton add some laughs, but with dialogue as heavy as a massive Pipeline wave and acting laugh-out-loud bad, we are pretty sure no film students will ever be writing essays on this comedy of errors.

Why Hollywood can't do surf movies

Shane Dorian, far left, as an actor became an ever better surfer. Photo Sheen Michaels Production

“In God's Hands”
You have to give credit to any movie that can almost destroy the credibility of Shane Dorian, surfing's most credible man. Matt George's script purported to offer "an introspective and international journey of a surfer who is struggling with his success on the pro tour and his inner need to be a big-wave soul surfer." We quickly find that Dorian's acting is a wooden as an alaia, and the clunky drama and overwrought emotion mean you'd probably rather get a “Jaws” set on the head rather than watch it twice.

Why Hollywood can't do surf movies

Johnny Utah and Bodhi discuss life and death matters. Photo 20th Century Fox

“Point Break”
Has any other film taught so many non-surfers that surfers are basically fools and furthermore fools with criminal intent? The stereotypical surf philosophy is hammered home in the 1991 film with quotes like,"It's not tragic to die doing what you love. If you want the ultimate, you got to be willing to pay the ultimate price." Us surfers thought we had paid the ultimate price by answering multiple questions about 50-year storms, until it was revealed this year that “Point Break 2” is being made, with “Chasing Mavericks'” Gerard Butler playing the Bodhi role.

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