Soul Surfer [2011] ★★

“Soul Surfer” could best be described as a cheesy, uninspired mess that rings so false, I found it hard to believe that it was actually based on a true story. It’s a well meaning film for sure, but the positive message is overshadowed by lazy writing and painful melodrama. And yet, the target audience will probably love it. I could barely stand it, not because I’m a heartless person, but because the acting and writing are so lame, I honestly felt like I was watching a TV movie (it felt like one of those films you can catch on Hallmark on Saturday mornings). Anna Sophia Robb (“Bridge To Terabithia”) takes on the leading role as Bethany Hamilton, a surfing champ who spends most of her time riding waves with her family. Bethany have dreams of turning pro, but just as she is about to realize her dream, she loses an arm in a shark attack on a nearby island. Her life irreversibly altered and her future plans down the drain, Bethany is forced to confront the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, from the daily efforts of peeling fruit, to the immense challenge of surfing without the balance and strength of two arms. She finds a way not only to live again, but also succeeds in becoming a surfer once again. If you think what I just wrote is cheesy, wait till you this movie. From the hilarious CG shark attack that swipes Bethany’s arm (makes me long for the rubber octopus from “Bride Of The Monster”) to the corny dialogue, “Soul Surfer” is nothing more than a paper thin story with a positive message. Does the powerful message make the movie any good? Not really. A much better version could easily be made, with a better screenplay and direction. But still, there is value in this film, and young girls will probably be more than satisfied with what the story has to offer. And no matter how poorly written it is, it still tells a true story, one that deserves our utmost respect and should truly be seen as a source of inspiration. If only it weren’t so cheesy…

Rating: 2/4

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