"Surfers: The Movie" has a certain stupid summer Zen. All righteous waves and wet riders, it is a Moon Doggedly inane compilation of sports footage and talking airheads. Directed by Bill Delaney, who has been surfing since he was 14, this worshipful documentary is dedicated to the once and future men who rip and stoke the tides.
All duded up -- except for the occasional stuffed bikini -- "Surfers" is a macho beachhead, all mellow-bellow and boy-toy posturing. Financed by various surfer entrepreneurs, it kowtows to the sandy set but also serves as a kind of lean beef catalogue for those who like dumb blonds. Whether past their prime or current champs, they all seem to have been bottle-fed lead paint.
"The public has a fairly narrow -- maybe accurate -- view of what these guys are about," says Delaney, who made the film to broaden that view through interviews with surfdom's elite, seeking their opinions on the likes of "partying," "stoking," "style" and romance. We hear that "surfers are beautiful people," that "if you wipe out, you're kinda bummed," that "it's good to have that go-for-it attitude," that "a surfer is never complete till he rips in Hawaii," that "surfing looks after its own."
Kiddie pools are deeper than surfers.
Whether they hail from South Africa, America or Australia, these surfboard users are self-obsessed, perpetually adolescent. Mike "The Trim-Master" Dora, a middle-aged recluse, and the younger Martin "The Animal" Potter demonstrate their respective techniques during a trip to Baja. After all these years Dora is still riding waves to shut out "screaming parents, screaming teachers, police, priests."
During the Baja adventure, Delaney also records a discussion between Potter and Mike Cruickshank, laid back and swilling Coronas in an open-air cantina. Sexual prowess becomes a point of contention. "You had eight breasts in your face. Or was it three pairs?" comments one.
With crosscutting, Delaney compares the surfer dudes to the wave-skimming gulls and the sea-dancing dolphins. Happy-go-lucky and chittering, they are stereotypical wave gypsies, at one with the ocean, a bit of God's own bouillabaisse.
Surfers: The Movie, at the Key, is unrated.