- Movie Rating -

North Shore (1987)

| August 14, 1987

The closest thing that I have to a trip the beach is that I shower every day.  I’ve never been a beach-goer, I’m more comfortable in a swimming pool.  At least I know what’s going in the water that way.  Given that, my hope for North Shore was that I might learn something about surfing, and/or about the people who spend their lives searching for the perfect wave.

Well, the people are there but I didn’t really learn anything.  What I got was a stock-standard story about an Arizonian  kid named Rick (Matt Adler) who is about to enter art school but gets to spend one summer surfing the big waves at Oahu Hawaii after winning a wave pool surfing contest.  Naturally, he’s a fish-out-of-water, totally unfamiliar with the landscape, the natives, the customs or the social food chain.

One day he is robbed by a gang of kids which puts him in direct association with a local legend named Chandler (Gregory Harrison from “Trapper John, M.D.”)  This begins a Yoda/Miyagi-style mentoring program focused on how to read the big waves and understand the difference between true surfers and those who disrespect the waves.

Eventually, he is abandoned by his mentor (“Go ahead, go shred”) but gets caught up in the true the beauty of nature.  Her name is Kiani (Nia Peebles) and their sweet little romance is tempered by the other locals who don’t like this interloper getting involved with one their own.

I got a little frustrated with all of this standard fish-out-of-water stuff.  North Shore crams all of the usual characters, situations and conflicts into a story that could be about anything – it doesn’t need the special circumstances of surfing to tell its story.  And that’s especially irritating since it was written by William Phelps, a documentary who made the surfing doc Wave Warriors and it was directed by Randel KIeiser who made Grease.  They have the photography right and the words all in the row, but why waste our time on such a conventional exercise.  There must be something more interesting about this sport than sniffing at outsiders.  Next wave, please.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Drama