Surfing Movies just can’t get a break in Hollywood. Or is it surfers who won’t take it easy on Hollywood? My guess is the latter. Surfing is a very personal pursuit for most, making just about any sentimental, philosophical or just flat out “deep” thoughts on the whole thing come off a tad corny when shared. And that was pretty much how Hollywood reacted to In God’s Hands in 1998. Box Office Movie Magazine referred to the big wave cinema as “[An] abysmally turgid and pretentious mess of tepid adventure, ponderous philosophizing, unromantic romance, bogus mysticism and vapid travelogue.” Ouch. So you’re telling us you kind of liked it?
“There’s a wave out there, it’s going to be massive, and all I can think about is riding it,” Shane Dorian dramatically proclaimed in the softest, most pensive monologue surfing’s ever seen. And that line pretty much summed up the message of the entire movie: surfer’s are philosophical creatures, so deep and mysterious, completely isolated from a world that could never understand a connection, a calling, so intense that somebody would give their life for it. I’m not sure if that synopsis was officially in the movie’s treatment, but if it was anything like that there may or may not have been a little bit of vomit landing on the paper it was printed on. Personally, I think there are more Bunker Weisses and Warchilds patrolling the coastline than emo Shanes (Shane was the name of Shane’s character, not Shane the actual really awesome big wave surfer, because technically they are different people), but I’m just tossing that out there from day to day observations.
And now I feel like a complete curmudgeon for griping about somebody trying to show a deeper side of surfing. See? I just proved my own point about why surfing and Hollywood haven’t figured it out without a little bit of throw up landing on some scripts and/or movie reviews. The reality is In God’s Hands was a sounding board for the “debate” that used to exist on the merits of tow surfing. Thankfully, for the most part, we’ve evolved as a group to appreciate one without thinking it abolishes the other. Tow surfing has its place, and paddling into big waves will always keep its place. In the meantime, we’ve all but forgotten what Shane Dorian looks like in a cowboy hat and turtle neck, Matt George climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (really), and Matty Liu still pops up on your television screen from time to time. So I propose, after 17 years, it’s time somebody rounds those three dudes up one more time, walks into a big time Hollywood studio, and pitches In God’s Hands II: Mickey’s Ghost SUP Surfs Chopes.