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'Blue Crush'

There's more to 'Blue Crush' than a sexist bikini romp

Friday, August 16, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

How can you tell the movie star from the real surfer? She's the one wearing the waterproof mascara -- and sporting lashes that look fresh from the curler.

 
 
"Blue Crush"

RATING: PG-13 for sexual content, teen partying, language and a fight

STARRING: Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Matthew Davis

DIRECTOR: John Stockwell

WEB SITE: www.blue-crush.com

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Truth be told, the real attraction in "Blue Crush" is not a blonde named Kate Bosworth but the North Shore of Oahu, where the water roars with the sound and fury of a liquid avalanche. Just watching the surf curl into skyscraper-high waves and crash onto the beach is mesmerizing.

"Blue Crush," directed by John Stockwell, is about three poor young women who work as maids at a luxury resort hotel in Hawaii but save their real passion and energy for surfing. They're all experienced but only Anne Marie (Bosworth) has been invited to participate in the Pipe Masters competition with killer waves and the best female surfers in the world. Anne Marie nearly drowned three years earlier -- tossed from her board, her head cracked into rocks on the ocean floor -- and has been fearful ever since.

A lack of confidence isn't her only problem. Since her mother took off, Anne Marie has become surrogate mom to her rebellious 14-year-old sister. But her biggest distraction is a professional quarterback named Matt (Matthew Davis) who checks into the hotel and hires her and her friends to teach him and a couple of other players how to surf.

Before you can say surfin' safari, Anne Marie falls for Matt and gets a look at how the other half lives -- eating a room-service breakfast while lounging in a fluffy white hotel robe, instead of sneaking leftover food from trays. Her friend Eden (Michelle Rodriguez, projecting determination and strength) worries that she's throwing away her Pipe dreams. Eden would love to be in her friend's sandy shoes, but she has not been invited to compete. The third young woman, Lena (Hawaii native Sanoe Lake), is the most laidback and non-judgmental of the bunch.

"Blue Crush" charts the growing attraction between Anne Marie and Matt and her decision about competing in the competition.

Inspired by an article titled "The Surf Girls of Maui" in Outside Magazine, "Blue Crush" was filmed entirely on the North Shore without any blue screen or tank shots. That means you don't see the actresses wobbling on a board as a wave is projected on a screen behind them. The press kit emphasizes "this is not your parents' idea of a surf movie," and the casting, story and soundtrack leaning heavily on hip-hop, reggae and electronica back that up.

The surfing, done by professionals, stunt doubles and the actors, is the best part of the movie. The story has been done to death -- girl from the wrong side of the tracks (or island) falls for visiting boy, locals don't take kindly to rich outsiders, girl must triumph over fear and face her destiny -- and the acting is serviceable, nothing extraordinary. The women, often clad in bikinis, are actually on the skinny side and lack "Baywatch" babe proportions.

"Blue Crush" distinguishes itself with its photography, which gives you the sense of what it's like to be tossed around that water like a sock in a washing machine. There are so many underwater shots that I half expected the mechanical shark from "Jaws" to rear its ugly head.

Any movie that puts the focus on athletic young women, instead of football-playing men, scores points in my book. However, while "Blue Crush" hints that women are the underappreciated, unacknowledged members of the surfing community, it never explores that theme in any depth. And don't go to "Blue Crush" expecting a how-to-surf movie, either. You should walk away with new respect for hotel housekeepers who are confronted by unflushed toilets, used condoms and snooty guests, as happens here.

In the end, it wasn't as dreadful or sexist as I had feared. If the landlocked scenes had been as strong as the ones on the water, it could have been a clear winner.


Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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