The cast of Logo's Curl Girls.

If everybody had an ocean

Mr. Pipeline comic art
This art was inspired by a photo at Gerry Lopez Surfboards.

I love surfing. Not that I can. I can’t even swim, but I ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep romantic love of surfing. If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered, "Gerry Lopez!" Of course, I was the only one in my hometown who gave a shit about surfing. Historically, in fact, most of America doesn’t seem to take it seriously as a sport, considering how often surf competitions are broadcast on network television, which is never. Well, I think I remember seeing it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports once, but that was like, 30 years ago, so maybe I’m remembering it wrong. Surfing may be coming into it’s own in the States, though, if the current crop of surfing related entertainment hitting movie theaters and television screens these days catches on. Here’s my guide to the surf related entertainment out now, and what will be out in the next few months.

Surfs Up Poster

Today I saw Surf’s Up, the new one from Sony Animation opening in the US and Russia this weekend and rolling out in the rest of the world over the next few months. Marketed as "A True Story," the movie uses the mockumentary style of This is Spinal Tap and The Office to tell the story of Cody Maverick, a young penguin obsessed with surfing glory who comes to learn that having fun and loyalty to your friends is more important than scoring points and winning contests. Check out this irresistable trailer and tell me it doesn’t make you think of Bill and Laird Hamilton; except that in Surf’s Up, Zeke doesn’t stick around to raise Cody, rather they are reunited years later. Cody is also considered to be a "little guy," unlike the real Laird Hamilton, but further proof that the makers were a little inspired by Laird comes when Eddie Vedder‘s love song to him pumps on the soundtrack as Cody goes into the finals of the big competition. The animation is so uncanny, Kelly Slater and Rob Machado are recognizable in CGI-penguin form playing theirselves! Surf’s Up is a lot of fun, and honestly pretty rush inducing. It’s worth the trip, and if you don’t want to take my word for it, the early reviews are good, Sony knows computer graphics, and in addition to the aforementioned pros, Shia LeBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Heder, Jeff Bridges and James Woods provide voices. If this other trailer still doesn’t convince you to put it at the top of your list, did I mention it’s aimed at the whole family? Unlike this next show.

If the embedded video doesn’t load, click to watch
John From Cincinnati Teaser at YouTube.

Fuckin’ HBO fuckin’ presents the fuckin’ new fuckin’ show from the fuckin’ creator of fuckin’ Deadwood and fuckin’ NYPD Blue, fuckin’ John From Cincinnati, which fuckin’ premieres fuckin’ June fuckin’ 10, after the fuckin’ final fuckin’ episode of The Fuckin’ Sopranos. Well, I don’t know if John From Cincinnati will have that much cursing in it, but my TiVo says it does carry a TV-MA rating for adult language. I remember reading about this over a year ago and being really psyched about it. The impression I got from the article I read was that John From Cincinnati was about two generations of surfers overcoming their personal demons to return to former glories, Big Wednesday style. The cryptic ad campaign seems to say something different. John From Cincinnati doesn’t seem to be about surfers; it seems to be about a mysterious Starman/Kyle XY Dude who shows up and some weird shit happens, which eventually leads to epiphany and catharsis for some people who happen to be surfers. It’s almost as if they decide the setting doesn’t work, they can retool the show and have the Starman/Kyle XY Dude move to Ireland and be therapeutic for some football hooligans. I haven’t read much about the show, because I don’t want to ruin the mysterious vibe until I see it, so I don’t know what notables (if any) from the surf world may have worked on John From Cincinnati. Watch the video above and see what the people involved have to say about it.

Silver Surfer movie still
"Despite the fact that I'm crashing a wedding, I assure you, I am not a marital aid!"

Opening in theaters around the world next weekend is Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I’m not looking forward to it at all. Don’t get me wrong, the Silver Surfer is one the coolest heroes ever. I have a lot of the old comics, and I still wish I had my old Silver Surfer t-shirt, because the ladies went nuts for it. The Silver Surfer was born of a time when humanity was just reaching out to the cosmos, when a generation suddenly exposed to higher education in lieu of a war began to question societal norms and examine the world through a philosophical lens. The Silver Surfer was a young everyman figure for the 1960’s: enlisting to destroy others because of a belief that doing so would save his home, he became conflicted once actually performing his duties and saw the suffering of others up close and personal, eventually becoming a conscientious objector, renouncing his original mandate and crusading for what he believed was right. As such, many issues of the comic explored the nature of humanity, nobility, and the search for identity and individuality. Pretty heavy stuff. Based on the trailers for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer it looks like the deep intellectual shit got flushed in favor of mindless explosions. On top of that, the Silver Surfer just looks fucked up. He has none of the majesty of the comic book incarnation; rather he looks like Terminator 2 flying around with a giant silver dildo fused to his feet. The penguins in Surf’s Up surf more realistically than the Silver Surfer seems to in the trailers. I can hear the fan boys already making their two big points: a lot of the poses he adopts come right from the comic book, and he’s not really surfing because there are no waves in space. Well, one, artists for comic books or graphic novels or whatever you want to call them use a bit of license to create a sense of fluid dynamism in a still image; emulating still poses in a motion picture is not dynamic, it’s stiff and unnatural. Two, since the Silver Surfer can travel through space, time, and alternate dimensions at the speed of light, I’ve always surmised that he surfed waves of probability, which exist everywhere in the universe. Hey, I could be wrong, the movie could be great, but was the first one that good to begin with?

The cast of Logo's Curl Girls.
The cast of Logo's Curl Girls.

Since my TiVo knows how much I love surfing and lesbians, it took the initiative and recorded Curl Girls, a good documentary that originally aired in the US on New Year’s Day, 2006 as part of Logo‘s Real Momentum Series, that followed the lives and loves of a circle of — you guessed it — lesbian surfers, as they competed to be sponsored by the Rocker Board Shop. Apparently it was popular, as Logo replayed it on New Year’s Day, 2007, along with a bunch of promos for the new weekly reality series version, which premieres June 18. Curl Girls The Series will follow the women as they prepare for some kind of competition, but the Rocker Board Shop angle seems to have been dropped. Still, the show should be an interesting look at the personal lives of surfers (albeit lesbian surfers), provided the series is as straightforward as the documentary was, and avoids the sensationalism many reality shows fall victim to.

The cast of Beyond The Break.

About six months after the Curl Girls documentary aired, the fictionalized teen-oriented hetero version premiered on The-N. Beyond the Break revolves around the WaveSync Surf Team, consisting of four incredibly hot girls, two hot guys, and a dude from Baywatch, living and surfing the pro circuit in Oahu. The girls are hot, the (too little) surf action is decent given the obviously limited budget, and Oahu looks great on film. So what’s not to like? It might just be a bit too teen-oriented. Take, for example, the plot about the chick who wins a slot surfing in the Fiji open, but then decides not to go, because she wants to hang out all summer with her local boyfriend, who as far as I can tell doesn’t even fucking surf! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a hypocrite. I know I don’t surf either, but I wasn’t born and raised in Oahu! If you were and never surfed, that’s kind of like being born and raised in Texas and never, ever having touched a football. Anyway, I know I learned the lesson of loyalty to your friends over contests today, but is that scenario likely to happen? I mean, giving up a slot in a major contest like that, when your sponsor is paying you and putting a roof over your head to compete in contests for them. Isn’t that just being a flake? In any case, I still watch Beyond the Break, mostly because it has hot chicks in it, like the hottest cheerleader on Heroes. Keala Kennelly guest starred on an episode to lend some beach cred. Currently in reruns, Season 3 of Beyond the Break is scheduled to premiere on The-N in the US sometime in 2008.

In a few days, I’ll let you know what I thought of John From Cincinnati.

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