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Surfer, Dude (2008)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/30/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/3/2009

Many well-known actors have their trademark traits. Clint Eastwood has his raspy voice, Ben Stiller has his nervous energy, and Tom Cruise has his smile (and little else). However, there's one actor who's famous for his ability to shed his clothes. Yes, I'm talking about Matthew McConaughey and the fact that he will inevitably take off his shirt at some point in a movie. Itís almost become a joke to watch one of his films and see how long it takes for him to be topless. I can only imagine that someone decided that it would be a challenge to make a movie where McConaughey went shirtless for the duration of the movie, and the result was Surfer, Dude; a movie with a confusing title and little else.

McConaughey stars in Surfer, Dude as Steve Addington, a world-class surfer, who is very well-known. Steve has spent his career work in association with Ben & Berry, marketing their shorts and surfboards. Upon returning from a tour, he learns from his manager (Woody Harrelson) that his contract has been taken over by former surfer turned businessman, Eddie Zarno (Jeffrey Nordling). Eddie wants to use Steve for a two-part promotion; first, heís creating a virtual-reality surfing game and he wants Steve to both star in it and endorse it; second, heís making a reality show called ďSurf TVĒ which shows a group of surfers living together in a house and he wants Steve to be a part of this as well. Steve feels that all of this commercialism goes against his natural way of life and declines. Following this, his world begins to crumble. He runs out of money, but even worse, a change in climate means that there are no waves, and Steve has never gone this long without surfing. He turns to his friends for support, and begins a relationship with one of the employees from the show, Danni (Alexie Gilmore), but two months without waves begins to take its toll on Steve. Will this cause him to give in to Eddie?

If youíre like most people, youíve probably never heard of Surfer, Dude. In case youíre wondering, it did play in theaters in a very, very limited release in September, 2008. How could a movie which stars Matthew McConaughy and Woody Harrelson, and features appearances by Scott Glenn and Willie Nelson simply fly under the radar? The answer to that question is easy; this movie is a trainwreck.

McConaughey not only stars in the film, but he served as producer as well, so he is as much to blame for this as anyone. (In the ďmaking-ofĒ, he states that the other filmmakers are life-long friends.) I must assume that this was a labor of love for McConaughey, but that doesnít mean that anyone else will find anything about it to like.

The movie was co-written and directed by S.R. Bindler, who is making his feature-film debut with Surfer, Dude. He had previously made the well-received documentary, Hands on a Hard Body. His inexperience with narrative film may explain the aimless feel of this movie. Or perhaps the goal was to mimic the laid-back life of a surfer. Either way, this movie meanders all over the place and its 86 minute running time feels like hours. Despite the detailed synopsis above (which covers most of the film, not just the main premise), the movie never feels as if it has a complete story, and we simply follow Steve as he goes from place-to-place. For those interested, there is some surfing footage, but for the most part, we just watch a shirtless McConaughey smoke pot and flash his ďaw shucksĒ grin for the camera. I donít know about you, but I donít find that appetizing in the least.

Typically when I see a bad movie, I can spot the good movie within which is trying to get out. Surfer, Dude doesnít even have that, which is a shame. McConaughey and Harrelson have both proven themselves to be very funny in the past, especially when they are playing loose characters. The two are incredibly loose here, but itís all played straight, and itís simply boring. The movie seemingly wants to expose the lives of surfers, but thereís nothing here that we havenít seen before and the incorporation of technology and corporate greed doesnít feel fresh at all. I can say with all honesty that I donít know what Surfer, Dudeís purpose was, but if it was to put me to sleep, then it succeeded.

Surfer, Dude gets tubular on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. For a movie which was just released this year, this is one of the worst looking Blu-ray Discs that Iíve seen thus far. The image is washed-out looking and somewhat grainy. The colors arenít the least bit vibrant. The image is flat, showing a disappointing level of detail and no great depth. Either this is a bad transfer, or the HD transfer revealed what was a lot of flaws. Unlike some other titles, I didnít screen the DVD of Surfer, Dude, so I canít compare the two. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, as they show nice stereo separation and are quite detailed in crowd scenes. The surround sound effects are well-done as well, again with crowd scenes and the surfing footage. The in-film music sounds fine and provides deep bass effects.

The Surfer, Dude Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Surfer, Dude: The Real Story" (25 minutes) is not a documentary, but rather a making-of featurette which contains comments from McConaughey and the filmmakers. We hear the background of the script and how the project came together. We then see audition footage for the casting process, while the bulk of the piece focues on the actual filming and we get a great deal of on-set footage, with occasional comments from McConaughey. (Harrelson refers to Mcconanughey as the living Buddha. OK.) The Disc contains 8 DELETED SCENES (I think -- they're all in a reel with no breaks), which run about 11 minutes. The bulk of these are actually just extended versions of scenes from the film. "The Complete Surfer, Dude 12-Webisode Series" (25 minutes) is another making-of featurette, and it's really similar to the other featurette, even sharing some of the same footage. The extras are rounded out by the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long