This past weekend at the Ventura Theatre, Dane Reynolds premiered his latest short-ish surf movie, Loaded. Much like Slow Dance, it features Dane, Craig Anderson, and a bunch of other hipster aerialists twisting and twirling far, far too high above the lip. Also like Slow Dance, Loaded is chock full of those quirky handwritten scene cuts and weird drawings, plus plenty of that cool ambivalence which we’ve come to expect from Dane. However, there are (thankfully) fewer awkward voice-overs and staring scenes in Loaded than we got in Slow Dance.
As always, Dane’s surfing is raw and violent. He targets and pursues the next section of a wave like a lion stalking its prey – fast, compact, powerful, and always with 100% commitment. I have yet to see a clip of Dane where he approaches a maneuver tentatively, and his surfing in Loaded keeps with that consistency. As much as his persona out of the water might reek of pre-meditated indifference, there is nothing casual about the effort he puts into his surfing. One of my favorite things about watching Dane surf is that, every once in a while, he will pull some outrageous maneuver that seems to surprise even him. It’s as if he had no clue what he was going to do, but somehow it all worked out beautifully.
Andrew Doheny, Craig Anderson and Nat Young make some brief appearances but don’t provide anything memorable. I learned that Taylor Knox does airs like you and me, which makes me feel much better about myself. However, his textbook power surfing and rail work help to add a little balance to a surf film that features more maneuvers above the lip than beneath it. Noa Deane follows his performance in Cheese with some huge airs in Loaded. Seriously, this kid can punt. Even his blown attempts make my stomach drop. Deane has been drawing comparisons to Mr. Reynolds lately, and for good reason. Now all he needs to do is perfect his stick figure drawings.
The recurring knock (whether deserved or not) on Dane, Ando, and their crew is that they are rarely seen charging waves of consequence. In Loaded, there is a pretty heavy sequence starting around the 15-minute mark that has the boys trading some scary closeout beachies, with Ando getting the lion’s share of made tubes. If you think Dane and Ando are only about airs, this section might make you reconsider.
All in all, I thought Loaded was a solid surf film. Nothing spectacular and certainly nothing we haven’t seen before. But any time you get footage of arguably the best surfer on the planet going balls-out with his buddies in pumping surf, it’s guaranteed to deliver a few jaw droppers.