By: Karen Pecota
24/7 MOMS film journalist
The veteran filmmaker, Sean Patrick McNamara (“Big Mac”), brings to life the telling story of Kauai’s surfer girl, Bethany Hamilton in his latest motion picture Soul Surfer. The Webster dictionary describes a Soul Surfer as, “a term coined in the 1970s, used to describe a talented surfer who surfs for the sheer pleasure of it. Although they may still enter competitions, a Soul Surfer’s motives go beyond winning.” McNamara and six screenwriters (Deborah Schwartz, Douglas Schwartz, Michael Berk, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson and Brad Gann) adapt Hamilton’s book about her grueling deep water experience and the following consequences of her life choices. McNamara’s well executed narrative gets Hamilton’s story right--especially in regard to her faith. Hats off to McNamara for a proper portrayal of her Christian faith as a positive life-style and not one that is questionably strange. The stellar cast and amazing cinematography put sheer sparkle into visualizing Hamilton’s story and the amazing impact on the world thorough her eyes as a sold out surfer girl.
A Native of the island of Kauai, Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) was the third child born to surfer dude parents, Tom (Dennis Quaid) and Cheri (Helen Hunt) Hamilton in 1990. Bethany and brothers, Noah (Ross Thomas) and Timmy (Chris Brochu) were natural surfers but she was different—the type of girl that was born to surf. At the age of thirteen, Bethany and best friend, Alana Blanchard (Lorraine Nicholson) received sponsorship from the surfing icon Rip Curl after placing in several national surfing competitions. Shortly before their first major championship Bethany, Alana, Alana’s brother Byron (Jeremy Sumpter) and dad, Holt Blanchard (Kevin Sorbo) are surfing in a beautiful remote cove off the Kauai Coast known for its awesome morning waves. Out of nowhere Bethany is attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark that takes huge chunk out of her surf board, carrying with it her left arm and almost her life.
Facing the giants of other famed surfers, Bethany’s twisted journey of broken dreams and a lack of purpose is nothing like a smooth ride through the ultimate pipeline. Youth leader and friend, Sarah Hill (Carrie Underwood), helps Bethany to look at life with a whole new set of eyes pushing Bethany’s strong faith, family ties and the will to take her adversities to a different level of maturity. Bethany’s tenacity and determination to take a horrific casualty and use it to make a difference in the world is a riveting narrative wrapped in the arms of love and grace. A story to remember!
"Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of.” -- Bethany Hamilton
Released in local theaters: April 8, 2011
Movie rating: PG (note: a scary shark attack scene)