Anne Marie Chadwick (Kate Bosworth) wakes from a troubling dream that had her cracking her head open on the reef while surfing, but shakes it off and goes out to exercise in the light of the dawn. Anne Marie is a surfing enthusiast, and likes nothing better to be out on the waves with her two friends, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake), but she has to look after her little sister Penny (Mika Boorem) as well. Penny also likes to surf, and this morning Anne Marie wakes her and those friends so they can be up bright and early for their sport. There's something playing on Anne Marie's mind, though, more than her sister's problems now that their mother has left them: the big contest in a week's time...
Surf's up in this light but absorbing film which was based on the article "Surfer Girls of Maui" by Susan Orlean (of Adaptation fame); it was given a story by Lizzy Weiss and scripted by her and director John Stockwell. This could have been a gritty examination of the obsession with the pasttime, and about how it's more a way of life for its fans, but Stockwell is more interested in attractive shots of Bosworth and her co-stars riding the waves in picturesque slow motion. On that level it moves along briskly, but Anne Marie has to have her crisis of confidence - is she wasting her time with all this? - to provide the requisite drama.
Anne Marie and her friends may spend all their spare time out on the ocean on the coasts of Hawaii, but they have to make their money somehow and all have jobs working as chambermaids at the local posh hotel. They enjoy each other's company, but not so much the job because of the mess the guests tend to leave, not even flushing their toilets in some cases (did we really need to see that?). The difference between the girls that visit the hotel and our three heroines is clear early on, it's as if Anne Marie and co. belong to the integrity of the lower classes, and the visitors belong to the shallow higher classes.
We know where our sympathies lie, and when Anne Marie is sacked for criticising a guest publicly for his inability to put items such as condoms in the bin, she is stuck for work. However, her Prince Charming arrives in the shape of football player Matt (Matthew Davis), who is obviously interested in her - but is he after a brief holiday romance or something deeper? We never really find out, but the character serves his function as the romantic interest, and also handily provides Anne Marie with cash for teaching him to surf. Oh, and his friends too, who bizarrely turn out to be three big, fat men, the same ones who were staying in the messy hotel room.
So now Anne Marie has to make a choice: does she stay with Matt and live the high life, or does she stay with her friends and aim for glory at the surfing competition, which we are told is the most dangerous in the world? Being a woman of principle, it's no surprise that a pampered life doesn't suit her, but we have the necessary conflict where she falls out with Eden just so she can make up with her again in the final half hour. Not as self-important as the likes of Big Wednesday, Blue Crush is more like Gidget for the 2000s, not as sugary sweet, but bracingly uncomplicated once the characters' woes are dealt with nevertheless. The best reason to watch is the excellent surfing footage, which should impress if the disposable storyline fails to. Music by Paul Haslinger.