There hasn’t been a great surfing movie in a number of years. In fact, some would argue the only good surfing movies are documentaries. Some might say that Point Break was a good surfing movie, but it wasn’t really about surfing. If you looked at the roster of Hollywood actors today, you might think that Matthew McConaughey would be the perfect star to bring a great surfing movie to the big screen. That is if he actually did try to make the movie great.
In Surfer, Dude, soulful longboard surfer Steve Addington (Matthew McConaughey) returns to Malibu for the summer to find his cool hometown vibe corrupted. New sponsorship demands Addington to expand into Virtual Reality video games and Reality TV. Unwilling to participate in this new digital reality, he chooses to spend his summer surfing his home waves. But in a twist-of-fate, the waves go flat. Out of money, his expense accounts cancelled, and betrayed by his buddies, Addington is backed into a harsh corner. Aided by his manager (Woody Harrelson), his mentor (Scott Glenn), his guardian angel (Willie Nelson), and his summer lover (Alexie Gilmore), Addington has a chance of keeping his cool, but it’s not going to be easy. The dude needs a wave, and there’s never been a drought like this.
This movie is really exactly like its title. It’s a laid- back comedy that isn’t funny in the slightest. Despite the title and setting, there isn’t that much surfing in this film either. In fact, the premise of the film basically limits the number of surfing scenes, because there are no waves when the main character returns home. But that’s really the problem with this movie. There are too many subplots that get the movie off track from his main premise. It also seems like there were trying to be a satire of media ubiquity, but that doesn’t work out that well either.
Besides the scattered plot, the cast isn’t much help. McConaughey is definitely the perfect choice to play a surfer, but he is really just playing himself, and not a character. That means he doesn’t put much effort into his performance and as a result we don’t really care about his character. The villains are also pretty weak. About the only person who puts any effort into things is Woody Harrelson. He is very funny in this role.
If you want to see Matthew McConaughey without a shirt on for basically an entire hour and a half, Surfer, Dude is the movie for you. But if you need more and actually like McConaughey’s acting skills, this movie offers none of that. The film had potential to be a pretty good surf film, but none of the actors, writers, or director give much effort to make it somewhat entertaining. It is watchable, but you really have to work at it. If you are in the 16-25 old college male demographic, you will probably enjoy this movie for the actually movie and various shots of girls in bikinis. If you are in 16-35 old young female adult demographic, you will probably enjoy just watching McConaughey without his shirt on. All others, should stay away from the beach.
The video is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode at the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. The video transfer is pretty great. Not the best looking film ever, but certainly above average. No major problems at all, and probably the best thing about this film.
The audio included is available in English TrueHD 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. Like the video, the audio is slightly above average. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear with no problems here either.
There are no Blu-ray exclusives.
Found on Standard Edition As Well…
Audio Commentary –
There is a full-length commentary with actor/producer, Matthew McConaughey. This could have been good, but McConaughey forgets to say anything for the majority of it. He simply comments for a couple of minutes and then watches the film. What he does say is mostly covered in other “extras” on this DVD, so really not worth listening to.
Deleted Scenes –
There are 11 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film. Just your typical stuff that is really not worth watching.
The Complete Surfer, Dude Webisode Series –
This runs 25 minutes and it’s a set of 12 “making-of” mini-featurettes that were originally on the internet. They total 2 minutes each with each featurette containing short interviews mixed with behind the scenes footage. They talk about the extended writing process, the small army of scantily clad twentysomethings on the set, casting, the fun vibe while cameras were rolling, McConaughey going pretty much the entire flick with his shirt off, a couple metric tons of weed, and setting up shop in the cast and crew’s trailer park among other thing. They should have just put these all together into one big featurette. It would have worked better on DVD. As it is, though, it’s fairly interesting stuff.
“Surfer, Dude: The Real Story” Featurette –
This runs 25 minutes and this is your standard “behind the scenes” featurette. It’s really more like a series of home movies. It’s all pretty light, fluffy, and cheery, but there are quite a bit of fascinating tidbits in here as well. It also has the best of the previous Webisode Series, so this makes watching that not necessary.
As mentioned before, this is worth a rental if you in the demographics this film targets. Not really worth a purchase by anyone, though. As for the difference between this Blu-ray version and the standard definition version, there is none really. The video and audio may be improved slightly, but if you really MUST buy this you can stick with the standard DVD version.
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment presents Surfer, Dude. Directed by S.R. Bindler. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Scott Glenn, Willie Nelson, Alexie Gilmore, Jeffery Nordling, Sara Wright, Zachary Knighton, Cassandra Hepburn, Todd Stashwick, Nathan Phillips, and Ramon Rodrigue. Written by S.R. Bindler and Cory Van Dyke. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: December 30, 2008. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Anchor Bay, matthew mcconaughey, Woody Harrelson