Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Soul Surfer on DVD

I was more impressed with the movie Soul Surfer, in theaters in 2011 and recently out on DVD, than I thought I would be or even than I wanted to be. Typically, the inspirational movies I have seen have been somewhat sub-par as far as originality and creativity go. Sometimes they smack of too much touchy-feely emotionalism, not enough depth, the screenplays written with a very basic salvation message in mind, something so cheesy and full of Christianese that it makes me want to cringe. I wonder, are people really touched and saved by those messages, or do they just make other Christians feel good that "our kind" produced a movie to "save people?" I know the Bible says Christians will look like fools to the outside world, but I think to myself, is it possible to be too much of a fool? I know that I am more embittered toward Christian arts and entertainment than I ought to be, and since I've stopped watching and reading specifically Christian art, it has possibly improved and I just don't know it. Obviously, this is a soap box of mine, that Christians should be subtle in the presentation of the hope we have, not that our message should be any less meaningful or powerful but that we should be innocent as doves and crafty as serpents, not of the world but wise to the ways of the world in order to win the hearts of the world.

So, I didn't go into Soul Surfer with high expectations, and maybe that's why I was surprised. It's still, perhaps, a more low-budget type of film, but the acting was impressive, and the message was just what it needed to be. I was additionally surprised to see mainstream actors such as Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as well as Carrie Underwood in the movie.

There's some footage of the real heroine of the story at the end of the movie, and that's pretty cool, too.

But what is Soul Surfer about? You've probably seen the picture of the girl with a big bite taken out of her surfboard on the DVD cover. It's based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a teenage girl living and surfing in Hawaii. She's headed for big success on the waves when one day, a shark takes a bite out of her board and her whole arm with it. Amazingly, she survives the attack, but her life is forever changed. Learning how to live day to day with only one arm, unable to even tie back her own hair, is a big enough challenge. But Bethany can't envision a world where she doesn't surf, so with the help of her dad, she learns how to surf with one arm and becomes an inspiration to fans all over the world. But it's a mission trip to Thailand after their disastrous tsunami that inspires her, and she becomes the girl who embraces more people with one arm than she ever could with two.

It's a moving story that had me in tears numerous times. The story is amazing. The surfing is entertaining. The message isn't overbearing. And it's very family friendly. The shark attack is quick, and though some blood is shown, the gore of it is not at all highlighted or sensationalized. I was not just surprised but pleased. If you haven't seen this one yet, it's totally worth it.

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