GIDGET WAS A SISSY
A scene from 'Blue Crush'
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"BLUE CRUSH"
 **1/2 stars
103 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, August 16, 2002
Directed by John Stockwell

Starring Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Matthew Davis, Mika Boorem, Sanoe Lake, Faizon Love



 COUCH CRITIQUE
   SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 45%
   LETTERBOX: RECOMMENDED

The cool surfing cinematography just isn't going to blow your mind on the small screen, so this movie will be relying more on its paltry story. Still fun perhaps, but with a lot less propping it up.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 01.14.2003



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Spectacular surfing saves post-feminist beach flick 'Blue Crush,' but plot is old as sand

By Rob Blackwelder

The 40 or so minutes that the newfangled surf-girls movie "Blue Crush" spends in the water is a cinematic blast of pipe-riding pleasure. Post-feminist and almost the antithesis of a "Gidget" flick, it also has a bit more going for it than just bikini babes and bitchin' waves. But its plot is ankle deep at best -- an amalgam of sports and summer love clichés that act as an undertow into the past it's trying to leave behind.

Accessible, freckle-nosed blonde knockout Kate Bosworth (who had small roles in "Remember the Titans" and "The Horse Whisperer") stars as Anne Marie, a gifted, Hawaii-raised board bunny with an ambition toward surfing fame and fortune. But a dysfunctional home life and haunting memories of a near-death wipeout are holding her back.

She lives in a shabby beach shack with her two best friends Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake), with whom she surfs every morning before they show up late for their low-paying house-cleaning jobs at a ritzy resort hotel. Lip service is paid to the fact that Anne Marie is raising her rebellious 14-year-old sister (Mika Boorem) because mom's off gallivanting with "a meal ticket who doesn't like the kids menu."

But while director John Stockwell -- who turned last year's potentially trite teen romance "crazy/beautiful" into something honest and exceptional -- makes the most of the movie's whitecaps, when it comes to the inevitable, screen-hogging romantic subplot, "Blue Crush" comes close to drowning.

Anne Marie gets romanced by a dime-a-dozen pretty boy Matthew Davis ("Legally Blonde"), badly miscast as an NFL quarterback (he looks like he weighs about 160 lbs.) who is in Hawaii for a game (even though the movie takes place in February). Generic flirtations lead to nights in white satin sheets, and off-the-shelf misunderstandings beget emotional conflicts that distract our girl from her goal of competing in the Pipeline Masters. That would be the annual surfing championship where Anne Marie could 1) conquer her fears, 2) beat out celebrity women surfers making cameo appearances in the film, and 3) impress talent scouts for product-sponsored teams and thus be granted her life-long dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Inspired by a story in Outside magazine entitled "Surf Girls of Maui," whenever "Blue Crush" sticks close to the sea, it's almost spectacular. Stockwell, a surfer himself, sends cameras into the curl to capture his surf girls speeding by as the powerhouse soundtrack pumps these scenes with energy. Underwater shots take the audience literally inside of giant waves as they roll over heroines. Aerial overhead shots establish an amazing sense of place, showing the breaking blue water peppered with surfboards, the gorgeous green land and the luxury of the resort where the girls work.

The surfing -- performed in part by the actresses themselves and in part by pro-surfer stunt doubles whose faces have been digitally replaced by the stars' pretty kissers -- is plenty exciting. Audible "whoas" and "wows" were emanating from the audience at a sneak preview this week. But they also laughed their butts off at how easily Anne Marie falls in bed with the QB when she goes to him for a shoulder to cry on after a fight with a girlfriend.

The actresses all give likable -- if lightweight -- free-spirit performances that buoy the film a little when it can't find its land legs. But it's a pity that first-time screenwriter Lizzy Weiss couldn't be bothered to find some fresh material for them to play when they're not in the water.

In terms of girl power, "Blue Crush" may have 21st Century sensibilities. But its plot is as hackneyed as anything Annette and Frankie had to deal with in the 1960s.




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