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Parent reviews for Soul Surfer

Common Sense says

Earnest sports biopic tugs at heart despite clichés.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 39 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 141 reviews
Adult Written byKate1975 February 6, 2019

Very graphic! My 9 year old went into shock.

I read the other reviews and everything sounded just fine, good messaging etc. People had said that the shark scene was quick but there was blood. The scene, while quick, was so realistic and intense. My poor son started to go white, felt sick and started sweating. He went all weak and couldn’t breathe! He went totally into shock at the intensity of the scene. We had to shut it off, get him water and a wet cloth for his face! May sound funny, but I can assure you his response was real and physiological! We are not some wimpy family either. He’s seen Jurassic Park and Star Wars etc. But nothing prepared him for this, and I feel just awful as a mother that I let him watch it. Can’t unsee it now and I just hope it won’t stop him from getting in the water and doing exciting things in life. I wish I could go back and not have allowed him to watch it.
Adult Written bychloe_1205 October 4, 2018

My Favourite Movie!

While most people think this movie is gory and sad, it's actually one of the best movies I've ever seen. Yes, at times it can be scary (especially the shark attack scene which might be a bit scary for younger viewers) but it has great messages and it can be so empowering! The only scene that might be frightening is the shark attack. When my eight-year-old was watching it she seemed fine and she normally does not like scary movies. Bethany Hamilton is such a resilient person and trust me, her attitude and behaviour when it comes to being in a horrible situation (her arm being bitten off by a shark) will rub off on you. Her story is so so SO empowering and this movie is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 4, 7, and 9 year old Written byAngela L. February 23, 2018

Great movie

My 8 year old daughter loved this movie as did I. It sent a really great message and I loved the Christian influence to it. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me". Really teaches empathy for others who are different and have physical limitations.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 7 and 11 year old Written byKelly S. September 27, 2016

An Amazing Film!

I love this movie! It does follow the story of a shark attack, but I honestly think that part is more dramatic than scary. That's what it's like in this movie- lots of drama, but that's overridden with amazing messages and a truly wonderful film!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent Written bymomto3amazingggirls April 16, 2013

Inspiring

This movie is amazing. My daughters especially Emma love it. It's inspiring and teaches kids not to give up on something they're passionate about and that if you have faith you could make it through any difficult tragedy. Would recommend for any kid. I would only rate it for kid 9+ cause of the shark attack scene. It does show the water turning red and the arm cut off overflowing with blood but they're only trying to make it seem realistic so no one should be saying anything negative. Watch watch watch watch!!!!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bytaragui44 March 4, 2012

Every kid over 8 years old should see this movie

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent Written byewe2lambs February 12, 2012

Excellent Film!

our dd who is a bit of a mermaid herself loved this film as did the rest of the family - but she did inparticular, excellent film, shark attack was minimal, characters etc very well played - great film!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written bybrown_eyed_girl February 1, 2012

A portrait of a very inspirational young woman!

The fact that it's a true story and Bethany continues to surf professionally allowed me to overlook the sometimes trite moments in the film because it's such an amazing story. Although the actual shark attack is not shown, younger viewers may be scared by the depiction of the attack and the bloody aftermath. The movie treats Bethany & her family's Christianity very matter of factly without being overly preachy or saccharine like some "Christian movies" can veer toward being. I think my children were actually more interested in the DVD's special features with actual footage of Bethany surfing, interviews with her friends and family, and how they did the effects in the movie. Because an adult actress plays her in the movie, until you watch the special features, you forget how very young Bethany was at the time of the accident and how amazing her determination to master her sport in spite of her new disability was. In the features, Bethany's mother talks about how they feel it was God's will that Bethany be attacked so she could use her story to reach more people, which again may be scary for young children - it's not just a message about rising above the circumstances life hands you but the idea that a supreme deity may actually purposely make a terrible tragedy happen to you, which could be unsettling.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Parent of a 10 and 13 year old Written bydenisendorff October 3, 2011

Good message, just know that shark attacks are not pretty!

The movie was fantastic for my family, including children-- 13 and 10. The shark attack was graphic and scary, but not gratuitous. It was an important part of the story. The characters really depict positive messages about perseverance against enormous obstacles.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Consumerism
Parent of a 3, 7, 9, 12, and 14 year old Written byPedrogonzo August 22, 2011

Great message, great story

very good, clean movie for the whole family. My 8 year old was fine with it, and my 10, 12, and 14 year olds LOVED it. Very thought-provoking at positive... really good message.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bywordsintheworks June 25, 2011

This movie makes a difference

This was a wonderful movie with positive messages that our kids need to hear. It stirs you emotionally and even brings a tear, causing you to realize how valuable life is. It shows how difficult things can become in the blink of an eye but with perseverance, faith, and a new attitude, you can overcome difficulties and make a difference for the world.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byTimsArmyWifey June 7, 2011

One to own!

Fantastic movie! Only caveat for some people I know would be modesty issues with all the skin, but it is a surf movie. Also know your kiddos the shark attack makes even most adults jump and there's a ton of blood but it's very quick. Wonderful family movie with great values!
Adult Written byThe Writer May 21, 2011

Lack of Cheese Made for a Very Good Film...

I walked into the theater expecting another inspirational, but terminally cheesy film about Christian values overcoming obstacles. Certainly, "Soul Surfer" had its moments of cheese, but nowhere near the usual pre-processed cheddar chunks so common to such films. I laughed, I cried, and even though the outcomes were predictable, I still cheered for the end. The scene of the shark attack was gory (though the shark itself looked achingly fake), and parents should be warned that some children could be very disturbed by it and the ensuing bloody trails as Bethany is taken to the E.R. Otherwise, I highly recommend this film for families. I do think most children under 7 will find it somewhat boring, but if you think your younger children will enjoy it, the messages and astonishing reality of the tale provides ample room for discussion and life lessons. Besides all of which, my geeky composer self found the score to be very lovely. Worth the watch, indeed.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Consumerism
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 8 year old Written bycougarfan May 3, 2011
One of the best movies out there
Parent Written byImjustsaying April 19, 2011

Great movie for ages 8 and up.

I saw this with my 12 year old and I loved it. It is a tear jerker so come prepared. The movie talks about Bethany's accident and her life afterwards. I think Helen Hunt and Denis Quaid did outstanding acting jobs in this movie and really seemed real as her parents. There is a lot of chritsian talk/values which I liked since many teens today don't even know about God. Carrie Underwood seemed a little stiff in her role as a young youth pastor. The shark attack wasn't gory but very scary and the hawaiian/tribal music they played during the scene where her bff's brother is running to the car to call for help is very powerful and the Helen Hunt seeing the ambulance driving to the hospital and she says "please don't take her" was very touching. I loved the movie.

This title contains:

Consumerism
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byamndaj April 11, 2011

Positive movie, good role model for real-life.

It was really a great positive movie. The girls I took loved it. They did look away during the shark attack, but that was brief. They took away the message of not giving up in adversity and helping others in need and being nice to others who might not even be nice to you. Definitely stay for the end credits to see actual video of the real-life Bethany doing some of the things highlighted in the movie. She is an amazing woman! The young actress playing her - and all of the other actors - did a fine job, I think. Some skimpy bikini's but even the main character said that one was too small.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 10 year old Written byMimim2501 April 10, 2011

Heavy, with overall good message, but...

Overall, a clean movie with a good message, but it's pretty heavy due to subject matter and my 10 year old was bored with it at times. While on the surface Brittney is a good role model, the movie is fully obsessed with surfing. The kids are never shown in a school setting (there is one mention of home schooling, where mother threatens to send them to a regular school which would cut into prime surfing time) and the parents don't appear to work. The girls sneak out to go "night surfing" and mom only scolds them and insists they ask next time. They are a religious family, and seen in church a couple of times. One teenage girl poses in a bikini for a magazine shoot, which was slightly racy in my opinion and not necessary. Common Sense didn't mention the product placement for "Silk" soy milk or a cereal (I've forgotton which one, so that prod placement was obviously a miss...) As mentioned in the CS review, the shark attack is violent but thankfully brief, and not nearly as gory as it could have been. It's definitely inspiring, but the family's lifestyle seems a little confusing and worthy of discussion with your kids.

This title contains:

Consumerism
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 10 year old Written bydrmama April 9, 2011
This is a well-done film. Some said it's preachy and for religious zealots, but this is just simply part of the truth of this kid's story. I'm not religous, but I just viewed this theme as part of her life that was a significant factor in her coping at times, and I didn't think it particularly heavy handed in that regard. The movie offers a great message about resilience, grace, positive attitude, and purpose. (And the shark attack, while difficult, was not as graphic as it could have been, which I appreciated). I can't think of a recent movie that gave my child anything more positive to think about it. It's not perfect from a cinematic standpoint (e.g., some characters not well-developed, a little cliche here and there, etc.), but a good movie that capitlizes on the right things.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written bywallyk2334 April 8, 2011

Should have been an afterschool special!!

Ok movie that could have been awesome if they left the cheese and religiion out of it. Way too preachy at parts. The real story is incredible. At the end they show footage of the real girl which is one of the best parts of the movie. Wait for it come out on DVD and rent it. If you are a religious zealot you wiill love this movie.

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