Parents' Guide to

Girls Can't Surf

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Engaging docu details past sexism, discrimination; language.

Movie NR 2022 108 minutes
Girl's Can't Surf Movie Poster

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This isn't the first documentary about sexist treatment of female athletes, but the world of surf culture gives it an entirely unique feel. That's underscored right from the opening title sequence of Girls Can't Surf set to fun, neon-stroked text graphics and female punk rock. As one interviewee in the film describes it, there's always been a certain mystique around the surf community, encapsulated in blonde-streaked, bikini-clad "demi-gods" and golden-hued sunsets on the beach. The film capitalizes on its gorgeous cast of characters and settings with tons of archive footage from the 1970s on.

The veterans interviewed mostly still surf today in their middle to late-middle age, and it's inspiring to see how far their sport has come in their wake and what role they each played in breaking down barriers. They open up not just with tales about surfing, but also personal backstories about family strife, coming out of the closet (or actually being pushed out and then ostracized), opting to pose nude in a magazine, suffering from anorexia or alcohol problems, dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, and more. The film captures and reflects on an era in a way that brings it to vivid and engaging life.

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