‘And the good they die young’ . . . especially tradition-breaking athletes on screen. See dueling flop Track & Field bio-pics PREFONTAINE/’97 and WITHOUT LIMITS/’98 for a prime example. And here’s another commercial dud all about teen surfing phenom Jay Moriarty and his tough-love guru/mentor/trainer/father-figure. It’s not really a bad film, there’s lots of cool action ‘captures’ to please the faithful, but with all the salt-water blather, non-fans may not swallow this ZEN AND THE ART OF SURFING meets A SURFER’S SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION. And it's scuppered by miscasting at the top with Gerard Butler’s verbally-challenged surf-sage showing little rapport or emotional bond to debuting Jonny Weston, a blankly pretty Teen Beat type sans enigmatic charisma.* (Though it’s fun to think that’s Sarah Silverman as Butler’s wife when it’s really make-believe twin Abigail Spencer.) Behind the scenes, more tragedy as early-onset Alzheimers robbed the film of director Curtis Hanson, with Michael Apted stepping in to finish shooting and ‘post.’ Hanson died four years later, never really having fulfilled the astonishing promise of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL/’97.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: An Israeli poster because, like the film’s monster waves, it also breaks left-to-right.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *As comparison, the Steve Prefontaine bio-pics catapulted Jared Leto & Billy Crudup.