Directed by: John Stockwell
Starring: Kate Bosworth
Running Length: 104 minutes
Blue Crush is similar to an actual vacation to Hawaii. The scenery is fantastic, the waves are incredible, and there are beautifully tanned and scantily clad people everywhere you look. On the other hand, the people you meet are shallow, you know how it’s all going to end, and on the way home you’re left with little more than a sunburn, some sand in your suitcase, and the feeling that you’ve just spent too much money.
Filmed on location on the dazzling island of Oahu, Blue Crush appears to offer 100 minutes of surfboard escapism. Unfortunately, the heavy emphasis director John Stockwell places on the danger involved in competitive surfing saps some of the fun from the film.
Anne Marie (a cute Kate Bosworth) is a spunky Hawaiian surfer girl who is days away from an important surfing competition. She lives with her two best friends, Eden (the always tough Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (introducing native Hawaiian Sanoe Lake), as well as her rebellious little sister Penny (Mika Boorem). For some reason, there don’t seem to be parents in Hawaii. With the support of her friends, Anne Marie is poised to compete at the highest level of women’s professional surfing, if the movie’s plot didn’t intervene.
Disrupting Anne Marie’s chance for success is her nagging fear of injury and the approaching Pro Bowl. When Anne Marie loses her hotel job because of a condom-related incident that is less amusing than it sounds, she and her friends decide try surf instruction at the suggestion of visiting NFL quarterback Matt (Matthew Davis). When surf lessons lead to romance, Anne Marie is left with little time to train. Meanwhile, any actual practice she does manage to accomplish is ineffective because of her consuming fear of getting hurt. A nagging memory of the nasty injury that knocked her out of competitive surfing causes her to vacillate between going hard and going home.
Unfortunately, once the plot gets going, it starts to unravel. At its heart, Blue Crush is simply a film about surfing. Between chasing after her little sister, wondering if her relationship is just a meaningless fling, or fighting with her friends, scenes not taking place on a beach feel like filler. Watching the actors sleepwalk their one-dimensional characters to their logical conclusions is less entertaining by far than watching them surf.
But what beautiful surfing there is. Director John Stockwell relies on creative camera placement and quick editing to capture raw power of the North Shore of Oahu during the winter. Seeing 20-foot waves is a fantastic experience in itself, but with the particular emphasis placed upon the danger involved, it becomes a bit tedious. As a result, this film is not for the easily seasick, and Stockwell’s insistence upon cutting the flashback of Anne Marie’s original injury into nearly every surfing scene is a technique that quickly wears thin. Even so, the stunning surf sequences dazzle both the eyes and the ears.
From a script that includes such gems as “I’m all you have!” along with such a young and generally inexperienced cast, don’t expect much depth. Blue Crush is a light and insubstantial piece of cotton candy entertainment, with a stern lecture underneath. But aside from the omnipresent safety warning, the surfing is fun and the brief look at a different kind of teenage lifestyle is refreshing.
Side note: Susan Orlean wrote the article "Surf Girls of Maui" from which the idea for the movie was taken. Yes, that Susan Orlean.