Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Is Your Brain...On Drugs...Making a Surfing Flick: "Surfer, Dude" (2008)



I don't know if this is a lark. I don't know if we are supposed to take it seriously. I don't know how much marijuana was actually consumed during production. I do know that "Surfer, Dude" is an uninteresting mess that does not bring enough laughs.

Matthew McConaughey is ace surfer Steve Addington, returning to the United States from an extended surfing vacation overseas. His sponsoring company has been bought by former surfer Eddie Zarno (Jeffrey Nordling), who is cashing in on Addington and others with a virtual reality computer game and stupid reality television series. All of this harshs Addington's mellow, as a sudden wave drought threatens his mental well being. After his equally high manager Jack (a pretty good Woody Harrelson) is tossed in jail, Addington is slowly squeezed financially by Zarno. Will he cave in and sign with Zarno as the world turns against him, or will he stick to his morals?

No, "Surfer, Dude" is not the first stoner comedy, or the first surfing comedy, but it is one of the strangest. Dope comedy can be funny, and this gets some laughs when Addington and his buddies (all of whom blend into each other and bore quickly) are pulled over by the cops. The scene after the end credits involving Addington and a new Korean sponsor should have been the whole movie! Instead of many missed opportunities, we get tons of shots of McConaughey staring out to sea with onscreen titles telling us how long the wave drought has gone. Not exactly comedic gold.

Harrelson, as Addington's manager with a lawn mowing business on the side, is actually pretty funny. Addington's minimalist lifestyle and clueless ideas about money is entertaining, but McConaughey is so laid back he almost puts the viewer to sleep. The rest of the cast includes names like Scott Glenn and Willie Nelson, but everyone looks so high, and refers to each other as dude or bro so often, I finally gave up on a linear plot and laughs and just patiently waited for it to end.

Bindler's direction sure likes McConaughey's shirtless physique. The cinematography has a grimy look to it, even though most of it takes place on the beach. The reality TV and virtual reality game angles never work, and when Addington's friends turn against him, you really don't care because they seem like a bunch of shallow hangers-on anyway. Hope you like reggae, as the music pulses and lurches, but never adds anything.

"Surfer, Dude" (one of the worst titles in the history of cinema) is not completely rotten, but I wish McConaughey had pulled a few more Hollywood strings to get a decent movie made. It's sad when your surfing philosophy was made more understandable using a bunch of penguins in "Surf's Up." (* *) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: Surfer, Dude