Blue Crush (2002) movie poster

(2002) dir. John Stockwell
viewed: 01/26/03

Kind of interesting watching this tepid Hollywood surf movie after watching the vibrant, autobiographical documentary of a genuine surf culture. This is perhaps especially so since Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) director Stacy Peralta suggested that his inspiration for his documentary process was that some Hollywood studio was considering filming a narrative film of their story, and he wanted to make sure that the “true” story was available. This, of course, suggests the artifice and “airbrushing” that any subject goes under before coming out as a major studio movie.

Blue Crush attempts to show Hawaiian surf culture through a story about female surfers competing on the biggest, most dangerous waves. There is a pretense at “realism,” believe it or not, in that the filmmakers truly felt as though they were “documenting” a culture in this film as well. They hired a number of Hawaiian locals and professional surfers to try and add some of the flavor of the world that they are attempting to portray. To the extent of their success or failure on this note, I would be hazarding a guess, having never been to Hawaii nor having been on a surfboard anywhere. Still, I think it would be hardly radical to suggest that this film seems clearly the more inauthentic of the two.

That said, it’s a relatively fun piece of pure confection/garbage, with lots of surf footage, girls in bikinis, and a fairly pervasive hip-hop beat. The highlight of this film for me was Sanoe Lake, one of the main trio of girl surfers (and the only one of the three who was actually a surfer before she landed the job). Sanoe has the comic relief role in the film and (perhaps therefore) seems the most real and natural thing in the film. The rest of it is almost how you would imagine it from looking at the movie poster.

I did find it interesting that this film strayed from some genre conventions (the competitive sports genre, if that is a genre) in that there were no villains or antagonists in the film. The film focuses on Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth)’s fears of the dangers of surfing as the challenge that she must overcome rather than some nasty counterpart who always competes against her. The film overplays this a bit, I would say though, and it almost seems like she doesn’t actually enjoy surfing or desire to ride the pipeline, but actually has a well-founded and pervasive fear of death.