Mixed Plate
Movie Review: Blue Crush (DVD version) (3/03)

Maybe it was a bad idea letting my wife and daughter watch Blue Crush. One of the first scenes was a dream wipeout/head-bashing sequence at Pipeline. I guess it was more harrowing for them since they've seen me come home with cuts and bruises from the Pipe reef. But the scene really worked since it evoked such a strong response.

Blue Crush is the latest Hollywood attempt at tapping the surfing world, this time looking at the women's surfing movement. The budget was very high, running something like $30 million. It went through many months of on-location shooting, simultaneously supporting and slightly disrupting the North Shore last winter.

You can't analyze Blue Crush without making reference to the North Shore, the campy, near cultish 1987 movie about surfing the Country. Whereas the the North Shore inadvertently made a mockery of itself, Blue Crush, though quite the formula movie, had some good things to say. At least the pidgin english was a little more realistic.

The story itself was fair, if a little cheesy and predictable. Girl is in training for big surfing contest, filled with self-doubt because of a bad wipeout at the spot (Pipeline). She works at a hotel with her roommates/friends and falls in love with a visiting pro football player. Her friends try and keep her focused while her younger sister gets rebellious. Tough local boys add a bit of color and drama. Football friends provide comedy relief. Girl finds the strength and courage to overcome her fear and scores a perfect ride, gaining back the respect of her younger sister and getting a cover shot and a surf sponsor in the process.

I had to crack up when my buddy Chris Taloa played the local heavy with Kala Alexander. Chris is actually a really intelligent guy, but he is a character just like the role he played in the movie. Other cameos were just as amusing, like Fred Patacchia, James Grant Benton, and Noah Johnson in a bikini!

The cinematography of the waves in Blue Crush was exceptional. There was one shot where a surfboard went flying into the air and bodyboarder Mike Stewart took off into this pit--that wave really captured the power and beauty of Pipeline. The other exceptional shot was the big tow-in wave out at Avalanche that heaved radically.

The thing that they captured better than any video or movie I've ever seen was in the underwater sequences where they showed how a wave sucks people over the falls and ragdolls them. A little bit overdramatized with scary overdub sounds, but still very accurate.

I love DVD's for all the "Special Features" that go behind the scenes, and this one was no exception. In the director's commentary, John Stockwell gives some very interesting dialog into the challenges of making a film of this nature. He fully acknowledges all the continuity errors in the movie, admitting that there is only so much that can be reasonably done to keep the film under budget and on time.

In the end, I'd give it two thumbs up. It ain't Endless Summer, but it was a fun movie nonetheless.

As for my daughter, well she just had to leave the room during the wipeout sequence and she pretty much got over it. But she still warns me to be careful whenever I go surfing.