It’s strange to speak positively about any Matthew McConaughey movie made in the past five years or so. The guy is as charming as they come, but he sleepwalks through lame romantic comedies and hasn’t really challenged himself since AMISTAD, which seems like decades ago at this point. So it was with much hesitation that I sat down to watch SURFER, DUDE, which seems to be more famous for the real life altercation with a photographer than anything else.
Now, to be clear, McConaughey is definitely not challenging himself with this one. In fact, I think the argument could be made that this film is actually more of McConaughey being himself and the romantic comedies that he gravitates to are more examples of him trying to act. But there’s a charm and genuineness to this film that makes it enjoyable.
The plot is simple enough, with McConaughey playing Steve Addington, one of the top surfers in the world. When he returns to California during surfing season, he’s notified by his agent (Woody Harrelson) that he doesn’t have any money. To make matters worse, there are no waves and Addington has nothing to do with his time. This forces him to accept a deal from a greedy businessman to live in a Real World-type house with other surfers. But our hero doesn’t want all the attention and fame, he just wants to smoke weed and surf.
So like I said; the plot is pretty simple. There’s a love interest and a mentor that shows up, but this film is all about Addington trying to find the next wave. The movie’s greatest strength is that it didn’t try to be anything it wasn’t. It’s a simple, small movie about surfing and the love surfers have for their hobby. There were times when it could have beaten you over the head with the spirituality found in surfing, but it let you figure that out for yourself.
I will say that if you don’t like McConaughey, you’re not going to like this film. I don’t think we went more than a minute without seeing him on the screen. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re already anti-McConaughey, you don’t have much of a chance to enjoy this. The supporting cast does a fine job, but this is McConaughey’s film and that’s never really in question. The film is also helped by the mellow tunes of Mishka, who’s “Coastline Journey” has become a staple on my iPod.
I can’t recommend this film to everyone, but anyone that has an appreciation for surfing, or even the ocean should enjoy the film. It’s not a summer blockbuster or a romantic comedy, but it’s a nice little dramedy about an interesting character that just wants to do what he loves. And isn’t that what we all want?