problem with “inspirational” dramas is the fact that they are usually so
determined about the life-altering importance of their story that they tend
to be humorless and often downright sanctimonious.
Soul Surfer. Please.
Soul Surfer is
based on the story of Bethany Hamilton, a young aspiring professional surfer
who briefly became a sensation on tabloid television a few years ago when
one of her arms was bitten off by a shark while she was in training for her
first major tournament.
Suddenly this cute, perky young athlete had to relearn everything, but with
a lot of patience and a lot of help from God, she was able to learn to surf
is a sad, tragic story. But, not to sound a little crass, but is surviving
a shark attack really inspirational?
is Bethany’s story any more important or life affirming than any other
person who learns to deal with becoming unexpectedly handicapped?
it because she was young and cute (and blonde)? Because she had wanted to
be a star athlete – a goal which she may or may not have reached? Because
she is a Christian?
Apparently some people think so, because completely separately from this
film, Bethany is the focus of a radio ad campaign from “The Foundation for a
Better Life” at something called Values.com. (Yeah, I want to learn my
values from the internet…)
ad states: “She knows a hollow from a double up. She does snap backs,
backsides, shoots the curl. Bethany Hamilton knows everything about
surfing. She just didn’t know about the shark. But just months after the
attack, and with only one arm, the thirteen year old surfs again. And now
she’s ripping it better than ever. So the next time life puts a little fear
in you, just think of Bethany Hamilton hanging ten on top of a heavy wave.
That's real Courage… Pass It On.”
Okay, is it just me, or is that commercial kind of creepy? Are they
suggesting in order to live a better, more values-laden life you have to get
your arm bitten off? Why are they even assuming we know who Bethany
Hamilton is (if not for the mention of the shark, I would not have
recognized the name) or that we would like to emulate her?
the movie feeds into the same vibe, though not quite as blatantly.
a horrible thing happened to Bethany Hamilton. And yes, she met it with as
much courage as she could muster up. I respect her for that.
However, does that give the movie the right to preach at me and drop little
Bible quotes on me for almost two hours?
don’t think so.
Bethany Hamilton’s religious beliefs helped her to conquer her fears, then
good for her. However, not everyone has the same religious beliefs. The
film is supposed to be telling a story about an injured athlete, not pushing
to convert its audiences religiously.
Therefore any real drama is smothered in the film’s real agenda, to get
people to embrace their idea of values.
a waste of some fine acting and some gorgeous surfing footage.
Sophia Robb – a fine young actress who has been edgy and interesting in
previous work – does her best to give her saintly character a little
nuance. But it’s all for naught, the script does not allow Bethany a single
surprising or interesting moment. Instead, we get cheesy platitudes like
“Love is bigger than any tidal wave or fear.”
pros Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt are marooned as her parents – an odd
combination of hippie surfer zen attitudes with born-again
self-righteousness. Country singer Carrie Underwood plays a
too-good-to-be-true teacher/preacher who is only there to be selfless, be
giving and spout the I don’t know why bad things happen to good people,
but God must have a plan speech.
hope that Bethany Hamilton’s real life is more interesting than this
film makes it seem. The feeling that Soul Surfer imparts is that she
is a martyr to the family values cause, losing her arm to find her
path in life.
There must be easier ways.
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: July 29, 2011.