Heavy-handed Soul Surfer

surfing movie's missionary undercurrent spoils the fun

Footage that runs during the credits show the real-life Bethany Hamilton as a devout Christian, so it’s probably not fair to hold this movie’s bible-camp undercurrent against it. But I’ll do it anyway. As Hamilton, a competitive surfer who loses her arm to a shark but gets back up on the waves thanks to her faith in the big gnar-shredder in the sky, AnnaSophia Robb is fine, as are Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her supportive parents. Unfortunately, country star Carrie Underwood nearly drowns the film in her small role as a missionary who’s supposed to be sweet and wise but comes off as a sanctimonious, judgmental bitch. In fairness, Soul Surfer is entertaining whenever it ditches the god talk and morphs into a well-photographed, girl-power surf video.