This is what I learned while watching "Blue Crush," which defiantly describes itself as "Not your parents' idea of a surf movie":
"Baywatch Barbie" is not a term of endearment;
"pipe" is more than something plumbers fool around with;
when Hawaiian locals yell, "we grew here, you flew here," they are not trying to be friendly;
running on the ocean floor holding a giant boulder is a fine way to build stamina;
the venerable "I had no idea you were in the bathroom stall listening to every nasty thing I said" plot ploy is far from dead;
real female professional surfers (several make cameo appearances in addition to working as stunt doubles) look a lot tougher than the film's trio of stars.
That may not seem like a lot of knowledge, but it's more than one might expect from "Blue Crush," the kind of movie that's not five minutes old before you know what the last five minutes are going to be like.
Here's plucky surfer Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth), training hard for the Pipe Masters competition on Oahu, doing her early-morning roadwork and writing things like "Train Hard! Go Big!" in red lipstick on her bathroom mirror.
Anne Marie may be young, she may have all kinds of obstacles to face (more about them later), she may live in a leaky beach shack and have less disposable income than anyone in the audience, but by God something tells us that a disaster in the Masters--just one week away!--is not in the cards for this spunky individual.
Though they don't win critics awards, films like "Blue Crush" can be entertaining when they're done right. Who doesn't want to root for determined, not to mention attractive, underdogs who laugh at the odds as they follow a cherished dream. Think "Rocky," think "The Rookie," think "Girlfight" but don't think "Blue Crush." At least not entirely.
For although director John Stockwell (who did the more successful "crazy/beautiful") and his co-writer Lizzy Weiss do it right some of the time, "Blue Crush" ultimately gets away from them. Way longer than it needs to be, overloaded with increasingly strained contrivances, it's a film that feels as if it outsmarted itself by listening to too many "what if" ideas from too many story conferences.
"Blue Crush" starts promisingly enough, with Anne Marie sharing her shack with feisty but supportive pals Eden ("Girlfight's" Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake) plus unruly younger sister Penny (Mika Boorem), whom Anne Marie's been raising since their mother took off for reasons unknown.
Aside from worrying about Penny partying too hard to do her homework, aside from jeopardizing her job as part of a luxury hotel's housekeeping staff by chronically showing up late, Anne Marie has another problem even her friends don't know about. She still gets recurrent nightmares dating from a near-drowning accident three years earlier, an incident that temporarily derailed her surfing career. With the Pipe Masters just days (days!) away, this is not a good thing.
Further complicating her life, but in a more photogenic way, is the connection Anne Marie makes with Matt (Matthew Davis, Reese Witherspoon's flame in "Legally Blonde"), the cutest quarterback in the NFL. He's in town for the Pro Bowl and is soon soliciting the kind of lessons, surfing and otherwise, only Anne Marie can provide. Can she manage Matt and the Masters, all at the same time?
Acceptable in general outline, and helped by excellent surfing footage, "Blue Crush" nevertheless can't seem to sustain any momentum. A lot of what happens on screen plays like marking time until the conclusion, and even that doesn't play out in an optimal way.
One difficulty is that "Blue Crush" is operating under too many conflicting constraints. You can't have a hot guy in the picture and not have him help out, but how much help can he provide in an avowedly "girls doing it on their own" piece of work? Tradition-minded moviegoers will want Anne Marie to succeed, but is that in conflict with the film's "not your parents' idea of a surf movie" modernism?
In attempting to serve all these different constituencies, "Blue Crush" overcomplicates its plot and spends a lot of time floundering around in the shallow end. Maybe your parents' surf movie wasn't such a bad thing after all.
* * *MPAA rating: PG-13, for sexual content, teen partying, language and a fight. Times guidelines: jokes about condoms and unsanitary bathrooms but otherwise fairly clean-cut.
Kate Bosworth: Anne Marie
Michelle Rodriguez: Eden
Sanoe Lake: Lena
Mika Boorem: Penny
Matthew Davis: Matt
A Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment presentation, released by Universal Pictures. Director John Stockwell. Producers Brian Grazer, Karen Kehela. Executive producers Buffy Shutt, Kathy Jones, Louis G. Friedman. Screenplay Lizzy Weiss & John Stockwell. Story Lizzy Weiss, based on the magazine article "Surf Girls of Maui" by Susan Orlean. Cinematographer David Hennings. Editor Emma E. Hickox. Costumes Susan Matheson. Music Paul Haslinger. Production design Tom Meyer. Art director Denise Hudson. Set decorator Meg Everist. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times