Friday, June 12, 2009

Surfer, Dude

Having not seen a single preview for this movie, my sole reason for watching it was to find out what that comma is doing in the title. I'm still not entirely convinced.

Surfer (comma) Dude stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and, because there's weed, Willie Nelson. McConaughey plays a famous surfer named Steve "Add" Addington. Add makes his money on surfboard endorsements but somehow gets involved with an evil businessman. This evil ex-surfer is bent on getting Add to live in a reality TV house and put his likeness into a virtual surfing game. Add would rather surf real waves than virtual ones but unfortunately there's a wave drought all over the west coast. Does he go against the surf gods and sign with this gremmie, or does he remain true to the surfer (comma) dude image and wait patiently for some tasty waves?

The plot seems like something you might see on The Simpsons. I can totally see these people drawn as Groening characters. I can see the TV Guide entry now: Sunday, 6:30 pm. Matthew McConaughey guest stars. Bart needs to help him defeat Comic Book Guy, who wants to make a surfing videogame. The difference is that The Simpsons is a funny and intelligent show. Overall, this story was very obscure and for lack of a better word, minuscule. I wouldn't expect that of a feature length film.

The ending was extremely weak as well. Had this been a television show, I might be able to accept the ridiculousness of it. But this is a film, and after sitting for an hour-and-a-half waiting for the climax, you come to expect a little more. Add overcomes the evil businessman in such a simple way that you'd think a kid wrote it. And what happens is not even possible.

I can't really tell if this movie was meant to be funny. I think it's more attempted quirkiness. There were some humorous bits though. Add walks everywhere barefoot, so when the pavement is hot, he walks kind of funny. There was that, and um... some funny thing about goats. I didn't get it, but goats are funny. They eat cans.

McConaughey and Harrelson are pretty good at portraying the partying surfer duo, although, I don't think surfers smoke that much weed. They did a fine job and were quite funny. Add reminded me more of McConaughey's goofy role in Dazed and Confused rather than the A-list scarf-wearing charmer we've seen lately. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? Really?

The actress who plays Danni, Add's girlfriend, is just awful. There's one scene where Add teaches her some cool surfer lingo. He explains that, "It's going off, dude," is a really cool thing to say when you're about to go surfing. Of course she repeats this back to him later on in the movie. But the way she says it is so corny and hilarious. You can really tell she's acting when she asks questions or makes sad faces.

Basically the movie isn't very good. It's dull, slow, and sometimes weird for the sake of weird. Some of the surfing shots are incredible. But it almost appears as if they were taken from other movies, like wild animal footage. I can't really say what they could do to improve the film, except for rewriting the story.

Oh, and the comma thing - Add is a "surfer dude", no comma. That should be the title. However, there's actually a line where Add says, "I'm a surfer, dude." So maybe the title was taken from half of that quote? Or the writer just likes punctuation. Either way it should have been called "Free Surfer", the name of the videogame. To me, that would have been the obvious choice. It references a major element in the story and is extremely meaningful. After all, Add just wants to be a surfer.

2 Surfers, dude.

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