Rumors of the surf film’s demise are greatly exaggerated. In a short attention span world, where surf films are little more than a video collage of airs, it’s refreshing – no, miraculous – that someone would care to make a surf film with some artistic flare.
If you’re looking for an endless string of money shots, namely boosts, punts and hacks, then avoid Groove Move at all costs, for you will be sorely disappointed. Even worse, there are no pros (the sole exception being Owen Wright), no charter boats, and no exotic reef passes. Instead, the movie is littered with counter-culture freaks like Alex Knost, Derek Hynd, Robbie Kegel, Ryan Burch, Joel Tudor, Dave Rastovich, Ford Archbold and several more. Given Owen’s personality and interests, he fits in perfectly with this rag tag crew and is therefore right at home in this film.
Now, I know what some of you may be thinking and I’ll stop you right there. Do not dismiss this as a longboarding movie. Yes, many of these guys are (excellent) longboarders, but the truth is that they rip on boards of all shapes and sizes. And that’s what makes them freaks. In this case, “freak” is a term of endearment. I admire the fact that these guys are so difficult to categorize. Take Ryan Burch, for instance. He rips on both long and shortboards but has also done incredible things on a slab of foam, aka the Lord Board, that looks about as easy to ride as a bar of soap and he has recently become a devout follower and practitioner of the asymmetric surfboard, developed by Carl Ekstrom. Groove Move is filled to the brim with freak surfers like Ryan Burch. The truth is, with surfers riding longboards, shortboards, bonzers, velos, mats, and more, Groove Move features more crafts than a Girl Scout summer camp.
I had the pleasure of seeing this film recently, courtesy of Mollusk Surf Shop and the historic Roxie Theater in San Francisco’s colorful and eclectic Mission District. While the director, Jack Coleman, couldn’t have been more stereotypical (think Jeff Spicoli but as a cartoon character) when introducing Groove Move, he did a phenomenal job creating a very entertaining film. Grainy and gritty with music turned up to “11,” this film had the raw feel of an art school project. Quite honestly, there was nothing in this film we’re used to seeing in a contemporary surf movie. For example, Coleman drops digital film for Super 8 millimeter and swaps thrash music with grooving – really grooving – music by artists ranging from Bo Diddley to The Blank Tapes. And of course, the surfing is incredible, but is nowhere close to anything we’re used to seeing. Finless spinners, front rail grab cutbacks, soul arches, crouches, and cheater fives – not on 9’6’s but more like 7’0’s. And virtually no leashes.
That’s ultimately what makes this movie great. It’s a counter culture film featuring counter culture surfers, riding with a style that hearkens back to a time when surfing was cool, before it became “rad” or, God help us, “sick.”
Like surfing itself, Groove Move is a surreal experience. I suspect this is what surfing would look or feel like on acid. True to form, a mystery surfer, identified only as “the Rookie,” closes the film with some mind expanding surfing. The only thing missing is a disclaimer from the ghost of Timothy Leary.
Groove Move will be available on DVD and iTunes and God knows where else starting March 21st. Prepare to be entertained.