Storm Surfers 3D

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Storm Surfers 3D Movie Poster Image
Impressive "big wave" surf documentary is mainly for fans.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The movie has some messages about continuing to do something you love, even if everyone tells you it's over. It also celebrates getting up and trying again, even after painful and frightening failures. Finally, there's a worthwhile message about continually striving to learn and better yourself.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Though these guys are shown to be generally good people -- trying over and over against the odds, attempting to better themselves, and persevering in a thing that they love -- they also sometimes come across as a bit mean and cruel toward each other, teasing each other and calling each other "girls" when they get frightened or hurt. There's also a hint that these guys are like grown children, somewhat shirking their responsibilities (though the movie celebrates this, rather than condemning it).
Violence
Some scary scenes of terrible wipeouts, with characters sucked underwater for interminable periods of time or Jet Skis tossed about. Characters generally emerge shaken but unharmed.
Sex
In one scene, Ross describes the feeling of being sucked under water as being like dancing in a nightclub; the filmmakers then show him actually dancing in a nightclub, surrounded by beautiful, scantily clad women.
Language
Language is very infrequent and only includes uses of "God" and "Jesus" (as exclamations) as well as "crap" and "sucks."
Consumerism
Red Bull helped finance the movie and appears to be a sponsor. The logo is seen at least once, and a character mentions that he has just had one.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Storm Surfers 3D is a documentary about two legendary Australian surfers who travel miles offshore searching for giant waves. It's a movie mainly for surf fans rather than for newcomers, and for the uninitiated, it may seem shallow, more in line with a TV reality show. But surf fans should enjoy the beautiful cinematography. Expect some scary wipeouts and Jet Ski crashes, though the surfers mostly emerge unharmed. Language is mild, with only a couple of uses of words like "crap" and "sucks," as well as exclamatory uses of "Jesus" and "God." One scene shows a nightclub full of scantily-clad women. Red Bull is a financier and sponsor on the movie, and the logo is seen and the drink is mentioned at least once.

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What's the story?

In Australia, surfing legend Ross Clarke-Jones and world champ Tom Carroll are now in their 40s and spend their winters (i.e. the months of June, July, and August), looking for the biggest waves they can find. Surf forecaster Ben Maston uses all the latest equipment, as well as local gossip, to find places in the ocean that few have ever seen, let alone surfed. Ross and Tom's waves are so big that they travel miles offshore on boats and then tow each other on Jet Skis to get close enough. And then the real fun begins. These men are as skilled as they come, but even they can't always stand up to the massive pounding the giant waves can deliver.

Is it any good?

Those who see STORM SURFERS 3D in the theater will be treated to some innovative 3-D effects, including cameras taken directly underneath the giant curls of the humongous waves. But if seen on the small screen, Storm Surfers is really only for surf fans. It's ultimately too shallow and too integrated for newcomers. Rather than exploring the lives and souls of its heroes, the movie is content to bask in their coolness, which includes occasionally pestering each other about being too "girly" when things get rough.
 
The movie does spend a bit of time on Carroll's three daughters -- and a single shot on Clark-Jones' son -- but these efforts seem more for decoration than for discovery. Moreover, the movie uses an annoying TV reality show-style formula, inventing phony cliffhangers and artificially ramping up suspense. On the plus side, though, the beautiful, stirring surfing footage may be enough for most viewers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Storm Surfersviolence. What draws people toward dangerous sports like surfing, especially big-wave surfing?
  • Do Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll seem like role models? Do they make you want to go surfing?
  • How is knowledge passed on in the surfing community? What do younger surfers learn from the older guys in the movie? What did the older guys learn in their time?

Movie details

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