Bethany (Anna Sophia Robb, pictured right, with the real life Bethany) has the perfect life in Hawaii, loving parents Tom (Dennis Quaid) and Cheri (Helen Hunt), two brothers Noah and Timmy and a best friend Anna, all of who share her love of the water. All she’d ever dreamed of doing was growing up and becoming a pro surfer.
Bethany and Anna have just been sponsored by Ripcurl and everything is going perfectly to plan. But then one morning when the girls are out training with Anna’s Father Holt (Kevin Sorbo) and brother Byron (Jeremy Sumpter) Bethany is attacked by the 14 foot Tiger Shark.
Bethany survives but loses an arm and begins to question her purpose in life. Her father has always told her that she can do anything she desires, but if she can’t surf then what is she suppose to do?
Bethany joins her local youth group leader Sarah Hill (Country Music star Carrie Underwood’s debut film role) on a group mission to help the people in Thailand put their life back together after the 2004 Tsunami.
By helping some people there conquer their fear of the water she finds hope and a new determination to overcome her own limitations to set and example for others to do the same.
It’s a true story, but for me the movie failed to really scratch beneath the surface properly. Well paced, but as is the case with many true story adaptation’s it was all a little bit too sugar coated and lacked that little bit of realism that ironically would make it more believable.
Despite this there are some good turns from the cast and Anna Sophia Robb has come a long way from Violet Beauregarde in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As the lead she gives a motivating performance of Bethany’s fantastic journey through recovery, self discovery and back to the top of her game again.
‘Old timers’ Quaid and Hunt help keep the movie from ‘sinking’ totally with believable emotional performances and there are some breathtaking surf scenes to distract you from some of the more ‘cheesier’ moments.
Despite its flaws Soul Surfer is still an amazing story and a film that could inspire your own dreams, or to believe with perseverance anything is possible.
Soul Surfer is released in the UK on 23rd September 2011