Spring is here, so I took the time recently to reappraise BLUE CRUSH, the 2002 girl power surfing flick starring Kate Bosworth. Man, now more than ever, we need girl power films like this. They should RE-release it in theaters, on IMAX.
The common critical response to the film at the time was that the awesome photography more than made up for the trite story and bland acting, but critics have always had a hard time with accepting truly free girl characters (God knows I’ve written enough on that subject in my past Lindsay defenses, so won’t launch into another tirade). If you can look past the surface colloquialisms and girlishness, this is practically a Howard Hawks film: overlapping dialogue; strong camaraderie, good sense of continuity and pace; issues of courage, maturity and nobility (there’s no bad guys in BLUE CRUSH). It’s all there, and best of all, the issue of romance getting in the way of your dreams–yeah you heard me, getting in the way of your dreams, girls–is handled with care and ballsy skill. How many films can handle real girls kicking ass like this? Maybe three.
Matthew Davis plays the vacationing quarterback who romances Hawaiian surf rate Ann Marie (Kate Bosworth) causing her to lose focus right before the big bad pipe competition. Michelle Rodriqguez is her best friend and trainer who sees what’s happening and knows Ann Marie is just scared she’ll hit her head on the coral reef, like she did last time. And real-life surf champ Sanoe Lake is, just, well, awesome; she’s a natural star and makes a perfect third in their posse, letting her surf sisters carry the emotional weight while she brings sandy authenticity and a deeply entrenched-in-the-termite-moment joi de vivre. When she rolls out of bed to answer the phone (The first thing anyone asks isn’t “how are you?” but “how are the waves?”) you feel like you’re right in bed with her, covered in sand, and still drunk from falling asleep three minutes before.
Also good are the local boy surfers; they sound like it’s taking a bit of effort of shout coherent English, but that’s fine; the friction of both professional and sexual animosity/desire between them and the girls in the surf community is kept nice and ambiguous; it’s more sexual than Frankie and Annette but not “little girl victim” time, like THIRTEEN. When Ann Marie tries to pull her 15-year old sister out of a local bad boy-packed beach party (their mom abandoned them and blah blah), there’s no clear sense of either safety or danger, so we’re put in the position of wondering whether Ann Marie is being an over-protective projectin’ bitch or not trying to drag her home. That’s rare and good in this genre, which usually has to spell out danger with ominous music cues and crack pipes or safety with hairbrush karaoke. Similarly, the Cinderella/Pretty Woman escape offered by the quarterback is allowed to have good and bad points. Nothing is certain, not even the outcome of the pipeline contest, and that’s what makes this a true blue winner.
Plus, there’s even a surreal horror element when you see this one dude surfing wearing Kate Bosworth’s face. CREEPY! Oh, and Faizon Love shows off his awesome black belly! Percs like these abound, dude. I’m dead serious, hook thyself.