I have a secret. I don’t enjoy surf movies all that much. I used to, back when I didn’t watch countless Youtube videos on the endless hunt for something interesting to put in front of the eyes of the surfing hordes — back when surf movies were something to look forward to, before the days where you’d seen all the clips on Instagram already. Back when they showed on screens in some dumpy little restaurant full of hooting kids. But I recently sat down to watch And Two If By Sea, the Hobgood brothers crowdfunded biopic, and holy shit, was I ever blown away.
Full disclosure: I donated money to the crowdfunding campaign because I’ve long been a huge fan of both CJ and Damien (which got my name in the credits, an added little thrill that made me feel like a little kid again), so I might be a little biased, blinded by the fact that I already believed the film was going to be great before it was even made. CJ and Damo are two of the nicest people in or out of the surfing industry and they surf like madmen. Add a little drama in the form of two hyper-competitive twins and a back story that’s more documentary film that everyday surf porn, and you’ve got a winner of a flick.
The Hobgoods have been around the block. When it comes to very large barrels, both are up there with the best in the world, but the film doesn’t really feel like it’s about how good they both are on a surfboard. Instead, it looks at what it was like growing up in the tiny world of pro surfing with a twin brother and all the weirdness that comes with it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There is some fantastic surfing footage in there, but the interesting parts come from the brutal honesty that’s woven into it. Extraordinarily personal details about their lives behind the shimmering curtain of professional surfing. There are dark secrets, hurt feelings, and the complicated gamut of emotions that comes with loving a sibling while hating them at the same time.
Complete with interviews from Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow, Sal Masekela, and the families of both CJ and Damien, And Two If By Sea has footage from the Hobgood’s childhoods that traces their roots from Florida to the top of the pro surfing circuit. It was a road full of peaks and valleys. It talks about the realities of being a twin and the hardships that come with it. And in the end, it shows something beautiful: two brothers who’ve accepted themselves and each other entirely, for all their faults and weaknesses, and still love each other unconditionally. And they do it with that funny kind of self-deprecating humor and humbleness that just screams Hobgood.
Directed by Justin Purser, a longtime friend of CJ and Damien (that friendship is important when it comes to telling a real story) and narrated by Daniel Tosh (who manages to paint a little humor onto the 90-minute canvas), And Two If By Sea was six years in the making. When it finished, they created something amazing: a surf film that will capture the attention of people who don’t surf. And it did something else, too: rekindled my love for a good surf film.
To find out how to watch it, head over to the website.