Last week I attended a pre-screening of Soul Surfer, the feature film about Kauai surfer Bethany Hamilton, which opens in theatres nationwide on Friday, and it elicited in me two diametrically opposed sets of emotions. First, there was the important group of feelings: the set that celebrates Bethany Hamilton as a beacon of inspiration and triumph in the face of adversity. The second (and exponentially subordinate) set of emotions I suppose any surfer shoulders was an obligation to dissect the film’s continuity as it relates to surfing.
While the PG-rated flick was bound to include a few clichés, I honestly think Soul Surfer did an admirable job honoring a young professional surfer’s unlikely story. Aside from the fact that there are enough Rip Curl logos to fill a decade’s worth of catalogs (a Rip Curl rash guard actually saves Bethany’s life: the ultimate case of product placement or meticulous attention to accuracy? You decide…) and the film portrays the Hamilton family’s relationship with the ocean (and each other) with Disneyish simplicity, its realism should satisfy the target demographic. More important, it provides a window into some of the intimate moments of Bethany’s recovery from the shark attack of Oct. 31, 2003.