Kate Bosworth in "Blue Crush"
Substitute big-wave surfing for boxing. And soften any edginess with more fairy-tale romance than Gidget found when she went Hawaiian. That sums up director John Stockwell's formulaic surfer-girl movie, a summer-lite escape that only lays pipe with its remarkable surfing footage.
Based on Susan Orlean's "Surf Girls of Maui" article in Outside Magazine, the slight plot revolves around Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth of "Remember the Titans"), who looks like Baywatch Barbie but dreams of competing in a traditional male sport. Her aspiration becomes reality when she scores a wild-card entry in the Pipe Masters surfing competition, held on the north shore of Oahu.
When the surf's not up, Anne Marie struggles to pay the bills and keep her rebellious little sister (Mika Boorem) out of trouble. She and her roommates (newcomer Sanoe Lake and Michelle Rodriguez of "The Fast and the Furious" and "Girlfight") work as maids at an upscale hotel resort.
The training segments only skim the surface of a surfing subculture steeped in turf and gender wars. As a local, Anne Marie can paddle out with the guys. But they taunt her when she fails to catch the big ones; she hesitates at the last moment, recalling a near-drowning experience three years ago. Pounding waves and on-the-water footage shot by world champion body-boarder Michael Stewart make the surfing scenes mesmerizing -- beyond hot bodies and nice cut backs.
Feeling more false and calculated are the scenes at the hotel resort. Alternating between giggles and groans, the three roommates goof around on the job -- trying on a guest's dresses and pressing faces against glass doors -- when not cleaning up the disgusting messes made by Pro Bowl football players (stand-up comedian Faizon Love mugs shamelessly for the camera). Enter the quarterback (Matthew Davis of "Legally Blonde") in need of surfing lessons, and Anne Marie's training regimen goes down the tubes.
Often the dialogue and acting are as stiff as wooden long boards. "Just tell me what to do," pleads Anne Marie to her new love interest. So much for a strong female role model. As though giving a quick pep talk before breaking out of a huddle, the quarterback has to remind her to be "a girl who would never ask a guy what to do."
Cameo appearances by world-class surfers Keala Kennelly and Layne Beachley will make you wish that documentarian Bruce Brown had given this material "The Endless Summer" treatment.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, teen partying and a fight. 1 hour, 44 minutes.
- Susan Tavernetti