Blue Crush Review
As pure eye candy, Blue Crush would take some beating. Beautiful girls in the tiniest swimsuits surfing spectacular waves... you can keep your gritty Ken Loach realism, this is what the cinema was invented for. The film's inspired by a magazine article called Surf Girls of Maui, which was written by Susan Orlean, who incidentally is the same journalist who was fictionalised and portrayed by Meryl Streep in Adaptation. Blue Crush concentrates on one surf girl in particular, a blonde Hawaiian beach goddess played by Kate Bosworth.
Girls surfing isn't a new subject for the cinema. Older readers may have seen the 1982 Australian coming of age drama Puberty Blues (see DVD Times review) while crinklies and nostalgia buffs might remember Sandra Dee as Gidget, which dates back to the Californian surfing craze of the fifties and sixties. Blue Crush ain't Gidget but it lacks the serious intentions of Puberty Blues or Big Wednesday and aims to be more of a conventional Hollywood sports movie, Rocky in a bikini if you will. It's this assembly line plotting which keeps threatening to knock the movie off its board. It mixes the weary Rocky formula with the even wearier poor-character-meets-rich-character romantic formula which has been used in the last month alone by Maid In Manhattan and Just Married.
Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) lives in a shack in Maui with her two best friends Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Samoe Lake) and the fourteen-year-old sister (Mika Boorem) she's been raising by herself since their mother deserted them. The three friends work as maids for one of the more expensive hotels on the island but surfing is what they live for. Anne Marie may be a potential champion if she can conquer the fears caused by an accident which nearly cost her her life. There's a major competition coming up and Eden is pressuring her to train hard. Then an unexpected distraction arrives in the shape of visiting NFL quarterback Matt (Matthew Davis), who asks her for surfing lessons but obviously wants to ride more than the waves.
Kate Bosworth and Matthew Davis make a cute couple, though the romance feels shoehorned in because hey, it's a chick movie, there has to be a love story. The inevitable complications are less than convincing. Anne Marie overhears some slutty football groupies saying that Matt is just slumming with her and the scene is played without any irony at all. Regular readers of the Sunday tabloids may wonder what exactly would constitute slumming for a professional football player. Attempts to portray the realities of the characters' lives and the class resentments between the poor islanders and the rich tourists also seem half-hearted. The movie keeps showing up its own artificiality. When the climactic surfing competition uses actual female sportswomen, muscles and all, Bosworth looks conspicuously out of place.
That you can just about ignore all these issues should give you some idea of how good the surfing footage in Blue Crush is. It's eye-popping stuff, seamlessly integrating real stuntwork and computer effects to create shots which swoop above, below and inside the crashing waves. It's not just empty spectacle either. You get a real idea of what a painful and dangerous sport this is. Surfers are thrown around by waves and smashed against reefs in sequences that are wincingly vivid. If Point Break made you want to rush out and buy a surfboard, this at least gives you pause for thought.