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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gonzo Geezers: Don Wallace film review of Storm Surfers

from the Honolulu Weekly:

Gonzo Geezers

In Storm Surfers, older chaps drop in on some very big waves


This is a movie for boys. Big boys. Fifty-year-old boys, 15-year-old boys, even, to judge from my wife’s reaction to Storm Surfers, women-who-are-boys-at-heart. It’s in 3D, which my wife generally hates on principle, and yet she kept those goggles glued to her face as Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll tackled the giant ocean surf of and off Australia. But then, she’s a surfer.

I’m not a surfer, though to fit in socially I often dress and talk and disport myself as one. Bodysurfer, yes. But that’s not quite the same thing, is it? Bodysurfing isn’t going to get you Red Bull sponsorship and 24/7 documentary camera coverage, including 3D photography and helicopter shots and teams on Jetskis and charter boats to go 75 miles offshore in search of waves. Or girls in thongs (which my wife refuses to wear, on principle, I guess).

These guys, Tom and Ross, 50 and 45 respectively, are lifelong friends from grommet days in Australia, famous for contests (Tom the former King of Pipe, Ross an Eddie Aikau winner). They’ve sown their wild oats; the film’s one departure from the quasi-documentary style is a hilarious recreation of Clarke-Jones’ party years. Both can still generate waves of girls in thongs on demand (which is, I suspect, why my wife encourages my interest in gardening and not surfing.)

Where is this heading? I’m towing you into a half-assed documentary full of big-ass waves and the ballsy men who ride them–against your will, probably, your better judgment, surely. But go see it anyway. There are a couple of very funny scenes as the boys mess around with a radio-controlled toy helicopter. The rest is beautifully shot, as you would expect, and the fragile plot is evidently real, not “reality”–Tom Carroll’s gotten too old for this big-wave gonzo stuff, he’s got the smell of death around him, as Lynyrd Skynyrd would sing it, but for this film and Red Bull and 3D is willing to gamely give it one last shot. He nearly dies, too.

Which is strangely real and touching. It helps a lot that in several scenes Tom is shown tying his 8-year-old daughter’s shoes. And the ocean and surf shots are, of course, incredible. You won’t be disappointed.

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