With all the bad news around us these days, it’s about time a truly inspirational film hit theaters. Soul Surfer is based on the real-life story of Bethany Hamilton, a rising surf star who lost her arm to a tiger shark in 2003. Bethany didn’t let that injury, which could have killed her, slow her down. She returned to the water a month later and placed fifth Open Women’s division surf competition just two months after being injured. Then, the following year, she won her first national amateur title.
Bethany turned pro in 2007 at the age of 17. Since then, she has competed in many contests, placing second in the 2009 World Junior Championships. She has also tackled the big waves of Jaws, named for the ferocity of the break’s 100+ feet waves. Her autobiography, written in 2004, serves as the source material for the film.
Soul Surfer is directed by Sean McNamara (Beyond the Break) and stars AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) as Bethany and Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid as Bethany’s parents. Country singer Carrie Underwood and Jack Nicholson’s daughter Lorraine Nicholson play Bethany friends, youth minister Sarah Hill and surfer Alana Blanchard respectively. Also in the film is former Miss Teen USA runner-up Sonya Balmores Chung, who used to compete against Bethany, as Bethany’s rival.
Yes, this movie is directed by the dude behind Bratz: the Movie, but he’s directed a bunch of other Disney and Nickelodeon films so you don’t have to worry about whether the shark attack will be too gruesome or there will be one too many gratuitous bikini shots for your grandma’s liking. And yes, there will be religious overtones (as Bethany’s faith plays a role in her road to recovery). Should you let that dissuade you from seeing it if you’re not religious? No, because in the end, it’s about believing in yourself. This is a great movie to watch with the kiddos and teach them a thing or two about never giving up. Soul Surfer premieres in the U.S. and Canada today.
Listening to: “Bright Star Hope” by Marquis of Vaudeville