title: SOUL SURFER
cast: AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Loraine Nicholson
It is an amazing story… the real thing, not the one depicted in this movie. The acting makes BAYWATCH seem like THE GODFATHER, and there’s little story arc, which is important in a beat-the-odds sports movie: especially about a young female surfer who, after losing her arm to a shark’s bite, relearns how to surf and eventually takes part in a major competition. The lead-up to the shark attack is slow, the characters introduced like a TV sitcom… only without laugh tracks or anything to really smile about. Protagonist parents Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid, both fine actors, seem to be going through the motions. And AnnaSophia Robb, as Bethany Hamilton, has but one expression throughout: even during, and right after, the attack, a pivotal scene that happens much too quickly. But the biggest sin is the lackluster montage during the training sequences as she learns to surf with one arm. There’s hardly any struggle, and before you know it she’s out on the waves like it’s nothing. Although there is a point of no return where Hamilton swears off surfing forever, leading to a “spiritual awakening” during a mission trip, sparking her interest again… These scenes have heart, as do actual footage of the real Bethany Hamilton during the end credits. And it’s nice seeing Christianity as something more than a character’s quirky psychosis, like depicted in most Hollywood films. It’s just too bad they had to rush through the important parts so quickly, leaving little residual soul in the process.