You may, or may not, have noticed that it’s the 20th anniversary of the film Blue Crush. To celebrate that achievement surf wear company Roxy has just released The Kate Bosworth x Roxy collection. Bosworth, now 40, played the lead character Anne Marie, a super-talented surfer with a confidence problem. The light and breezy script followed a group of Oahu-residing girls who try to balance work, friendship, romance… and surfing Pipeline. It scored good reviews and grossed a whopping $55 million at the box office. 

 

It was a rare case of Hollywood getting surfing, mostly, right. History shows there are three types of Hollywood surf films. A tiny percentage that are so good they are good. The overwhelming majority that are so bad they are just bad. And then there is the holy grail; the surf films so bad, they are actually good. Here are the five of best, or worst, Hollywood surf films, depending how you look at it. 

Point Break

We’ll start with the elephant in the room, Point Break. Some have said that Keanu Reeves's acting is not so much wooden but petrified. Critics labelled the film as shallow, blathering machismo, with a cheeseball plot, terrible surfing sequences, and Gary Busey. And yet, while all this may be true, this dumb movie is also great, as the director Katherine Bigelow creates a subversive, anti-establishment, action film. It is a film that gave surfing the immortal concept of the 50-Year Storm and the endlessly quotable “It’s death on a stick out there mate.” 

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Surf Nazis Must Die

When the son of a gun-wielding woman is murdered by neo-Nazi surf punks in the post-apocalyptic future his Mama hunts them down for some bloodthirsty revenge. The 1987 surfploitation film combines sex, surf, and splatter in a sordid sci-fi setting. The rotten acting, cheesy action, low budget, grainy pictures, and low-fi sound (oh, and the Swastika motifs) undeniably make this a very bad, movie. And yet, with its title, dark humour, ultra-violence, and surfing action it has become a sleeper, cult classic. I mean, what other surf movie has a mum breaking out of her retirement home and blowing things up with grenades while driving around on a motorcycle?

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North Shore

A cause celebre for the so bad its good surf movie, North Shore’s considerable and enduring appeal remains one of surfing’s great mysteries. Protagonist Rick Kane, having learned to surf in his local Arizonian wave pool (in this, at least, it foretold the future) takes his winnings from a tub contest to fly to Hawaii and compete in the Pipe Masters. There are mentors, mates, enemies, and, of course, romance. The first three categories were played mainly by professional surfers. Mark “Occy” Occhilupo reinvents the acting wheel by playing himself so badly you don’t know who he is. And yet despite the destined-for-DVD cliches, the film has struck a weird and wonderful B-movie chord with surfers since it was made in the 1980s. 

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In God’s Hands

Scripted and produced by surf journalist Matt George and starring Shane Dorian, this is a watch-through-your-fingers type experience. Yet any film that any movie that can almost destroy the credibility of Shane Dorian, surfing’s most credible man, deserves a watch. It turns out, go figure, that professional surfers are much better at surfing than acting. The surf cinematography, however, is as good as it gets, and if you can forgive the lack of plot, sub-plot, humour, narrative, and coherence you can sit back and soak up the general surfiness of it all. The budget was a remarkable 10 million bucks, of which almost none was recouped. “Think of it as a disaster movie,” quipped creator Matt George later, “I have, for many years now.”

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Surfer, Dude

Surfer magazine editor Rob Gilley didn't hold back when he reviewed 2008’s Surfer, Dude. “This might be the worst mainstream surf movie ever released. A true turd in the toilet bowl that is Hollywood surf cinema.”

The plot involves a shirtless, drawling, Matthew McConaughey as a professional surfer and beach bum. Looking for a relaxing summer of fun in the Malibu sun, he instead finds himself in an existential crisis when the entire coastline goes flat. McConaughey, a keen surfer often seen at various CT events, was as far away from his McConaissance as at any stage in his career. Surfer, Dude makes Sahara and The Wedding Planner look like Citizen Kane, but maybe that’s the point. He (almost) died on the Hollywood surfing cross, (taking co-stars Woody Harrelson and Willy Nelson) with him, but came back to ride again. 

 

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