Universal Pictures’ Blue Crush could have been a huge disaster. Rather than being a female empowerment movie about extreme sports and following your dreams, Lizzy West and John Stockwell’s adaptation of Susan Orlean’s “Surf Girls of Maui” article could have just been a sorry excuse to show three attractive women prancing around in bikinis for 104 minutes. Luckily, a talented cast of up-and-coming actresses and some amazing surf sequences will keep viewers’ eyes on the screen for a reason other than the excessive flesh — though one can’t deny that’s enough eye-candy in itself.
High on Action, Not on Plot
PG-13 for sexual content, teen partying, language
Blue Crush is based on the article "Surf Girls of Maui" by Susan Orlean for Outside magazine.
Blue Crush focuses on Anne Marie, a young, attractive woman who gave up on a college education after falling in love with the big, blue waves of Maui. However, her love for surfing is stifled a bit when a vicious encounter with a wave smashes her head against the reef and leaves her almost dead. Now afraid to take the plunge, Anne Marie is encouraged by her two best friends (Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake) to conquer her fear of surfing pipe by entering the Rip Masters surf competition — a competition that could also land her an endorsement deal which would get the trio out of the run-down beach shack they live in. But when a vacationing football star (Matthew Sweet) walks into her life, Anne Marie is torn between living her dream and facing the challenges that come with pursuing it, or living the fairy-tale life without struggle the pro quarterback could offer her.
Granted, Blue Crush’s storyline is anything but deep and its ending is far from being a surprise (after all, the football stud is just vacationing in Maui — he doesn’t live there), but like most action films, Blue Crush’s plot doesn’t have to be thick for it to be a ride worth taking. Filled with great surfing sequences and real-life footage of surfer injuries, Blue Crush truly captures the surfing life in all its gore and glory. Director John Stockwell manages to bring the beach to the viewer, in part because he filmed the movie without ever making the locals leave the waves. His interaction with real life surfers — including some of the top women surfers in the business — shows on-screen and helps make Blue Crush seem like more than just a teeny-bopper chick flick that will draw in the 15-and-under male crowd for the wardrobe.
Nevertheless, with producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind) saying he made Blue Crush to empower young women, one has to wonder how hurried Universal was to get the film out in theaters with several other female surfing flicks in the works — including one at Paramount that’s rumored to star Party of Five’s Jennifer Love Hewitt. After all, Anne Marie’s story is far from being one parents would want their daughters to model their lives after — she’s a dropout; she’s barely making enough money to eat, let alone help raise her younger, live-in sister (Mika Boorem); she frequently blows off work to surf; and she jumps into bed with some random guy she’s giving surfing lessons to after only knowing him for 48 hours. The script definitely should have been tweaked a bit if Grazer wanted this to be a positive look at Anne Marie’s life, since even the cliched happy ending (or at least cliched optimistic ending) doesn’t change the fact Anne Marie is not exactly role model material.
The Girls of Summer
Thin script aside, Blue Crush marks an impressive acting debut for Kate Bosworth, who up until now has simply been referred to as “the girl from The Horse Whisperer.” Bosworth proves she is worthy of the lead role in Blue Crush with her engaging and athletic performance as Anne Marie. She shows that there’s more to her than just the gorgeous body that’s been plastered on billboards since late June. Blue Crush should do for her what Universal’s The Fast and the Furious did for her fellow co-star Rodriguez last summer, and audiences shouldn’t be too surprised if she quickly becomes one of Hollywood’s newest “It” girls.
Unfortunately, Blue Crush doesn’t so the same for Rodriguez, who — although she gives a fine performance in the film — isn’t given the softer, more gentle role she so desperately needs to break away from the tough girl roles she’s been pigeonholed in since Girlfight. One can only continue to wait for the film that will let Rodriguez demonstrate her natural acting ability outside of scowling and being angry since all Blue Crush accomplishes is letting audiences see her in more skimpy (and wet) apparel.
Those Summer Nights...
Overall, Blue Crush is the perfect film to end the summer with. Even though it has its share of wipeouts, the movie also has a lot of action, romance and humor to entertain its target demographic, and provides just the right amount of light-heartedness to keep viewers from thinking too much. It’s the perfect film audiences can go to and enjoy after frying all day in the hot August sun, and by the time its credits roll, the story radiates that same summer nostalgia teens will be feeling in a matter of weeks when it’s time to leave the surf themselves and get back to the books.