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Blue Crush

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The cast of "Blue Crush" strikes a spontaneous pose.

© 2002, Universal
All Rights Reserved

Deep in the heart of Hawaii, Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth, "Remember The Titans") is preparing for her trials at the upcoming, all-powerful surfing championship. Buoyed on by her friends, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez, "Girlfight") and Lena (Sanoe Lake), Anne Marie is desperately trying to regain her nerve after a surfing accident sidelined her career three years earlier. Held back by fear, and the responsibility of raising her little sister, Penny (Mika Boorem, "Hearts In Atlantis"), after their mother abandons them, Anne Marie's attention is diverted when a football superstar, Matt (Matthew Davis), shacks up in a nearby posh hotel. The two fall instantly in lust, but the championship looms ahead. Can she clear her head in time?

"Blue Crush" (IMDb listing) is director John Stockwell's second teen-centered feature in just over a year. Taking an unusual interest in what makes young adults tick, and how well he can exploit their bodies, Stockwell has diverted himself from the booze and sex of 2001's "crazy/beautiful," now focusing on the waves and sisterhood of "Blue Crush." This would be fine for a director who has proven himself behind the camera, but Stockwell is just another run-of-the-mill filmmaker who has yet to find a cliché he doesn't like.

Inherently, "Blue Crush" is a story of surfing, but in Stockwell's crazy script (co-written by Lizzy Weiss, and based on a magazine article about female surfers), the film takes on many themes including abandonment, truancy, friendship, fear, love, lust, and growing pains to name only a few. Yet, Stockwell doesn't bother to complete any arcs in the film, turning to random scenes of waves crashing over surfers to get out of dramatic and narrative entanglements. Penny's drug abuse and suggested sexual awakening? Lena and Eden's quitting their hotel maid jobs, then scenes later, working as if nothing happened? Or Anne Marie and Matt's positively doomed relationship, yet all smiles and hugs as the end credits roll? Nothing is finished by the conclusion of the film, and there certainly isn't any attempt to tie these loose ends along the way. It's this kind of incomplete and lukewarm screenwriting that decimated "crazy/beautiful," and Stockwell shows no signs of improvement here. He seems satisfied with the holes in his story, and the end product comes off disturbingly lazy because of the gaps in logic.

One also has to climb above the endless motivational speeches to grab some air. Stockwell doesn't use these moments in moderation, allowing every character to have a speech in which they tell Anne Marie that she can achieve greatness. And for good measure, just to let us know who's really evil in the "Blue Crush" world, he has a bathroom scene where the lower-class Anne Marie overhears the higher-class football girlfriends tear into her from her stall. I wish I were making that up. The film actually contains this scene. That's the kind of screenwriting choices that made "The Facts Of Life" so memorable, not a feature film like this. Shameless.

Regardless of Stockwell's diversions, we came to see the surfing scenes, and even he manages to botch them as well. Can you possibly photograph a crystal-blue Hawaiian wave poorly? Yes, if you watch "Blue Crush." To reach more specifically, it's really the editing that's the culprit. Covering each surfing sequence with more than a handful of angles, Stockwell makes it his mission to use them all. The overactive editing ruins the surfing footage, and also reeks havoc with the continuity. With the "Endless Summer" films and the breathtaking "Point Break" setting the standard, "Blue Crush" takes the low road and endlessly chops away at anything of beauty. I want to see the characters barreling down the pipe, not the reaction shots of the civilians on shore. Stockwell prefers the other way around.

The film also tries to pass off the stuntwoman's work by pasting Kate Bosworth's face on the bodies of the professionals. A computer technique that is used in many films (most notably in "Titanic" and "XXX"), the end result is a hilarious mix of natural movement and a stiff and blurry paste job. It makes Bosworth look like a character from "Lord Of The Rings," and deflates the opportunity for authenticity that "Blue Crush" seems to crave from the surfing world.

But that's not to knock Bosworth, because, in a Johnny Bravo way, she fits her bathing suit agreeably. The part doesn't demand much of her, but she looks the role, and in Stockwell's case, that's half the battle. Trouble comes when the film is focused on Rodriguez, who's much more capable of carrying a film, and fills her tiny scenes with the character's precise mixture of jealously and regret. She should've been the lead. Also, comedian Faizon Love ("Made") shows up in a brief role as a fellow footballer on vacation, and he provides the film's only moments of fun.

Stockwell turns 40 this year and maybe it's time he made a film about people his own age. "Blue Crush" is more tolerable than "crazy/beautiful," but it clearly displays a talent who just can't let his teen years go.

Filmfodder Grade: D

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