Soul Surfer Movie Review: Inspirational!

April 8, 2011

We all know the story behind Bethany Hamilton, the then 13-year-old surfer from Hawaii who was attacked by a shark and in turn loses her left arm. Soul Surfer is the movie based on her true story. Did it succeed in telling the inspirational tale of her young life? Check out my review below.

Soul Surfer

The film, directed by Sean McNamara, stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany, Dennis Quaid as her father, Helen Hunt as her mother, Carrie Underwood as the church youth group leader (she makes her acting debut here), Kevin Sorbo (my, it was so good to see him on screen!) and Lorraine Nicholson, yes, the daughter of THE Jack Nicholson, plays Bethany’s best friend, Alana Blanchard.

The movie starts out with us getting a glimpse of Bethany’s beginnings – she was born to two die hard surfers, she has two older brothers and she has a BFF since they were wee ones, Alana. Before long we see Bethany competing in a surfing competition, tearing it up. She’s made it through the first round, along with Alana, and both are picked up by a sponsor.

Bethany heads to a church youth group session, where she tells her leader Sarah, played by Carrie Underwood, that she’s unable to make the missionary trip to Mexico, she must stay and train for the big competition. As I said earlier, this marks Underwood’s acting debut on screen, and unfortunately she was, um…flat. I didn’t feel any kind of chemistry that you would sense between a young girl and a mentor, but you know, that’s just my opinion. If you know me, you already know how much I ADORE Carrie, so I am a bit disappointed that she didn’t deliver a stellar performance, heh.

Bethany is off to practice with Alana and Alana’s father and brother are there to catch some waves as well. This is it folks, we come to THE moment of the movie. The shark attack. Thankfully this was not reminiscent of a scene from JAWS. It is, after all, rated PG. Bethany is of course in shock, but remains calm throughout, as they all quickly get her to an ambulance and en route to the hospital.

Oddly enough, Bethany’s father is already at the hospital, about to undergo knee surgery when a nurse rushes in and tells the doc (played by Craig T. Nelson) that they need the room, there was a young girl involved in a shark attack. The doctor goes to find out what’s going on, comes back and tells her father that it is in fact his daughter.

Adjusting to life without an arm is frustrating for Bethany, as we see her struggle to do things that we take for granted such as opening a bag of bread, slicing a tomato, putting on clothes, etc. She wants to compete again, and get back on that board. This is where AnnaSophia Robb shines. You can feel her determination and all you want to do is root her on. While she does go through some rough spots along the way, and at one point decides to throw in the towel after a disappointing performance at a competition, she goes on a mission trip to Phuket, Thailand, which was recently ravaged by the tsunami, and it is on that trip that changes her outlook on life. She comes home and once again wants to get back in the water and compete.

Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt do a fine job portraying Bethany’s parents. I’ve always loved these two as actors, and it’s been a while since I’d seen Hunt in a film. It was nice to see her beautiful face light up the screen albeit a supporting role. The same goes for Quaid, and is it just me, or does he get more and more handsome as he gets older? In fact, the family dynamic is well played.

I can’t tell you enough how breathtaking the surfing scenes are, absolutely gorgeous shots!

Overall, the film did capture Bethany’s determination and courage. You can thank Robb for that. But the message here is clear — faith will get you through anything. Truly an inspirational movie, you can’t help but leave the theater feeling all good inside.

Soul Surfer opens nationwide on Friday, April 8th. If you see it, leave me your thoughts about the flick below.

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3 Responses to “Soul Surfer Movie Review: Inspirational!”

  1. 1
    Jon Says:

    It is nice to see a movie about triumph over tragedy. this should be good. It will be weird Carrie Underwood in a movie.

  2. 2
    Rachelle Says:

    I can’t wait to see this movie! You review makes me want to see it more great job!

  3. 3
    Sandy Says:

    I want to see this movie, awesome review!