I've spent a lot of space in this column trashing "formula films"
for their lack of energy, freshness or depth. Most movies in this
vein have clearly been made-by-committee and lack a strong narrative
voice or point-of-view. Well, what I learned from viewing "Blue
Crush" is this: sometimes formulas work.
"Blue Crush" in not an innovative work that tackles lofty themes
but, instead, is an unapologetic audience pleaser that gives you
exactly what you want. It holds its head up high and dares you not to
Ann-Marie Chadwick (Kate Bosworth) is a talented, 20-something
surfer hell-bent on making her rep at an upcoming pro-competition
(something the folks of Huntington Beach might know a bit about) to
which she's been invited despite a career setback that still haunts
her. Three years earlier she nearly met a violent end when a wave
smashed her head against a Maui corral reef. Since then she's been
trying to get her head back in the game. Ann Marie has the skills,
but her confidence has gone AWOL and threatens derail her pro-career
before it even takes off.
These days, Ann-Marie lives with a surrogate family that includes
her younger sister Penny and her two best friends, Eden (Michelle
Rodriguez) and Lena. As Eden pushes her hard to strive for her
personal best, Ann-Marie worries about Penny's experimentation with
alcohol and boys (Ann-Marie's the only parent Penny has since their
mother walked out on them.) And, of course, an affair with a famed
quarterback threatens to distract her concentration, causing
Ann-Marie to question if she's just a fling or something more
Sound contrived? It is. What's impressive is the care the director
John Stockwell and writer Lizzy Weiss have taken in making these
characters absorbing. They're not re-creating the wheel, just giving
it a different spin (excuse the painful pun). These are characters
whom you quickly identify with and root for, which is exactly how
you're supposed to feel in a mainstream, aggressively campaigned
commercial summer feature. Much effort was made to make the dialogue
sound natural. I completely bought the relationships in this movie.
"Blue Crush" knows the world it depicts. The social aspects of the
surfing community make for some interesting scenes, including a messy
fight catalyzed by a non-local using a locals-only beach; Ann-Marie
making a ritual surf report call before sunrise; surfers who sleep on
the beach because they can't afford rent but still live and die by
their cell phone. Although, it might be important to note, as a
non-surfing Huntington Beach native, my personal knowledge of that
world is questionable. Point is, I bought it. I think you will, too.
What makes "Blue Crush" such a fun ride are the adrenaline pumping
action scenes. This film is a fantastic achievement in underwater
photography and pulse-racing editing. Edge-of-my-seat excitement is
not an understatement. The editor knows how to throw an audience into
disappointment and then lift them back up. The pacing is inspiring.
It's not easy to film a movie on or in the ocean. It's a nightmare to
shoot dialogue since the natural sound of pounding waves would drown
it out. That's why, with rare exception, a large portion of the
in-the-water dialogue in "Blue Crush" is heard without seeing the
character's mouth speak it. It would be too difficult to "loop"
(re-recording the actors in studio as they try to match the moving
lips on the screen) during post-production. However, this is
"Blue Crush" won't change your life, you may not even remember it
in a few years, but it does command your attention for the two hours
you paid for. Most movies can't fathom such a daring feat of
Oh, I almost forgot one other point ... the girls are kinda
* ALLEN MacDONALD, 29, is currently working toward his master's
degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los
'Pluto' far from out of this world
Eddie Murphy needs to fire his agent.
In "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," Murphy plays the title
character, an ex-smuggler managing a famous nightclub on the moon --
85 years in the future. The big threat: the mob puts pressure on Nash
to sell his venue to them.
There is no forgiving the writer. The story, by Neil Cuthbert
("Mystery Man"), is abysmal. Rather than typing the drivel he calls a
script, Cuthbert should have saved a tree.
Director Ron Underwood, ("City Slickers") guided the project
effortlessly -- so effortlessly you might think that there was no
director. The other actors who should be denying any involvement in
this picture are: Rosario Dawson, Randy Quaid, Joe Pantoliano, Jay
Mohr, Luis Guzman, James Rebhorn, Peter Boyle, Burt Young, Miguez A.
The big joke, which was shown in the previews, is that Hillary
Clinton will be the president shown on the $10,000 lunar currency in
2087. That's it. I saved you the price of admission.
Why Warner Bros. thought now would be a good time to release this
film, is beyond me. Filming was completed on "Pluto" 2 years ago, and
it has sat on a shelf since. Perhaps they thought this movie could
serve as a $90 million advertisement for AOL and CNN, which are
spotlighted in the story. The fact that Warner Bros opted to not
allow the press to preview "Pluto", demonstrates its transparent lack
of confidence in this product.
"Pluto" has no message, no morality tale, no underlying truth. It
is not a spoof, or parody, it simply is a vehicle for Eddie Murphy
that crashed at launch. Murphy's last outing, "Showtime," was not
much better and his future release, a remake of "I-Spy" in which he
re-portrays Bill Cosby's classic character, does not look to hold
much promise. What has happened to Eddie Murphy? I believe him to
still be an outstanding comedian-actor, but "The Adventures of Pluto
Nash" will definitely not substantiate my opinion.
* RAY BUFFER, 32, is a professional singer, actor and voice-over