Get ready to hang ten, dudes!
Are you tired of Cocaine + Surfing talk? I’m sorry. Really and truly. Any sort of promotion is annoying, I get it, though essential but still annoying so let’s take a break for a few days, ok? Let’s just talk about other things like movies. When summer hits North America you can guarantee one, two or sometimes three mainstream media groups will push out a list of surf movies to watch complete with headlines like, “Don’t head to the beach without watching these cool surf flicks!”
This year we are lucky that the film/television’s own Hollywood Reporter took on the chore. Lucky because it is an inside peek at what Hollywood itself values. They titled their own Hang Ten, Dude: 10 Memorable Surfing Films. So what are they and how does the Hollywood Reporter describe?
1) Big Wednesday: The coming-of-age drama starring Gary Busey, William Katt and Jan-Michael Vincent centered around three young men whose passion for surfing kept them connected through war, death and other chapters of their lives. The film was based on the real-life experiences of director John Milius and writer Dennis Aaberg.
2) Blue Crush: Kate Bosworth starred in Blue Crush as Anne Marie, a hard-core surfer girl living on her own with her younger sister who braves the Banzai Pipeline of Hawaii to achieve her dream of becoming a sponsored surf star. The iconic movie that launched Bosworth’s career became an instant cult classic in the early 2000s.
3) Chasing Maverick: The film stars Jonny Weston as a young man aiming to surf one of the biggest waves, which is just miles from his home in California. He turns to a surfing pro (Gerard Butler) to teach him how to survive the treacherous waters.
4) Endless Summer: This 1966 documentary is considered by many to be the most influential and iconic surf film of all time.
5) North Shore: Featuring no shortage of surfing action and some of the most dangerous waves on Earth, North Shore is an adrenaline-powered look into the high-performance sport of big wave surfing.
6) Rip Tide: After an embarrassing viral video damages her career, an American model (Debby Ryan) heads to Australia to live with her former pro surfer aunt, who hasn’t been back in the water since the death of her husband.
7) The Shallows: The surfer-against-shark premise might be considered a warning not to surf in the ocean alone on an isolated island.
8) Soul Surfer: In 2003, real-life and on-the-rise surf champ Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) survived a tragic shark bite injury, resulting in the loss of her left arm. Despite losing her arm and 60 percent of her blood during the attack, she remained undeterred from the water, getting back on her board once her stitches healed.
9) Step into Liquid: In a documentary shot in waters all over the globe, director Dana Brown takes on tall waves and surfers who live to challenge them.
10) Surf’s Up: This family flick features the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges and Zooey Deschanel. The heart-warming documentary-style story focuses on a young penguin named Cody, who dreams becoming a surfing legend.
In the book Cocaine + Surfing I write:
Pop culture’s dance with surfing is always a funny thing. I suppose if surfers had any sort of understandable depth, or any depth full stop, then Hollywood would have pounced on them as archetypes and figured out long ago how to capture the specifics enough to make a surf blockbuster, but have you seen Hollywood’s surf films? Have you seen Chasing Mavericks or Blue Crush or Point Break (either of them) or North Shore or Big Wednesday or The Perfect Wave or Soul Surfer or In God’s Hands?
The best of them are laughably bad. The worst are a forgettable cringe.
Hollywood can’t get the surfer even halfway right and I think it’s a proximity issue. Many in Hollywood, many directors and producers and actors, think they surf. Their glittering town perched on the Pacific causes them to believe they know what it all means because they walk out of Malibu homes, grab a goofy yellowed seven-foot pintail and go sit in the puddle out front. But surfing and belonging to surf are two entirely separate things. Belonging to surf, in my definition, is to be part of the surf industrial-complex. Those who either work for a surf brand in some capacity as a photographer, writer, shaper, or who have at some point in their lives. Those who have so oriented their lives around surf that they watch World Surf League events while chatting about professional surfer form on message boards. Those whose productivity slowly drains away because they surf instead of working. Those who have pterygiums.
And that is exactly what Hollywood is missing as it relates to the surfer. Pterygiums.