I have two big regrets in my life. One is Family Game Night and the other is Family Movie Night. Both were my ideas. I thought it would be a good idea to get together as a family and do some fun stuff on the weekend. I am an idiot. Not since Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel have I put myself through as much pain as I did with this Saturday's viewing of Soul Surfer. (editorial disclaimer: As I reread this post (yes, I do reread these posts...sometimes) I have come to the conclusion that my comments are somewhat mean spirited. My intent was not to dis Bethany Hamilton - who is a courageous and inspirational young lady - my problem is with the packaging of her story - now back to our irregularly scheduled diatribe)
Every once in awhile I get suckered into one of these inspirational Christian movies, covertly Christian but not radically evangelical enough to piss off the Catholics and Jews. Something about the camera work gives it away - almost like a high def version of the Brady Bunch. I have the same reaction I do when I accidentally rent a movie they previously showed on the SyFy channel - Oh, shit... So young Bethany lives an idyllic life in an island paradise with loving parents and an active spiritual life, surfing and homeschoolin' the days away. She attends a beautiful open air chapel full of beautiful spiritual people. Beautiful white people with no so much as a pimple to be seen. The leper colony must be on the other side of the island. The fat ugly kids evidently have their own church. Probably not with a view of the ocean. Or maybe they don't go to church - that's why they're fat and ugly. A couple of dark colored people show up, mostly in the crowd scenes. There is one weird Hawaiian guy with a pompadour who shows up from time to time, no doubt a survivor of the the measles epidemic. He kills the shark (his people are good at that). He's OK with the haolies even though they stole his island and decimated his people. Why hold a grudge?
Miss Hottie, the youth minister, holds a vacation bible school class. She's hot but deep. Throughout the film she is Bethany's anchor to ...uh...spirituality. She explains through a slideshow and well timed quote from Jeremiah 29.11 -For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Bethany takes this to heart, thinking "I wonder if God is going to send a shark to bite my arm off to make me a more complete person?" And darn if that isn't exactly what happens.
So Jesus needed a hand in heaven and they rush poor Bethany to the hospital after she loses like 98% of her blood but she survives and the Doc proclaims it a miracle. No doc, if she grew the arm back it would be a miracle. But, then again, I set my miracle bar higher than most. But the doc is Craig T. Nelson - so whattya gonna do? Pretty much the rest of the film concerns Bethany’s struggle to adjust to her disability and learn how to surf again. Asking my wife how Bethany shaves her armpit earned me a withering look. Not the first withering look of the film but definitely the most withering. Miss Hottie (Carrie Underwood) the youth minister who runs disaster tours to help the world's downtrodden decides Bethany needs cheering up and takes her on a missionary trip to an area where thousands of people have died in a tsunami. There, Bethany bonds with some kid who is traumatized by the drowning of his entire family and takes him surfing. Dr. Phil would approve. Bethany goes home, loses a surfing contest but wins the hearts of her countrymen and my disabled grand daughter. So, once again, I find myself caught between religion and a hard place. Thank God my wife tends to the kid’s spiritual needs while I get to snipe from the sidelines.
The moral of the story? It’s cool to be Christian.
Reason to see this film? Neat surfing footage
Reason not to see this film? – Dennis Quaid
Cheese rating? - Full wheel