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Girls rule in Blue Crush

Director John Stockwell, who has two subversive girl-centered teen films to his name, may have carved out his own personal niche as champion of tragic tough girls.
In crazy/beautiful, wild rich girl Kirsten Dunst suffered the pangs of life without a mother, and in Blue Crush, surfer girl Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) is toting an even heavier emotional burden. Anne Marie’s party-girl mother hit the road when Anne Marie was a teenager, and now she has a wild child of her own — baby sister Penny (Mika Boorem) — to raise.

Anne Marie’s substitute family are two home-girl pals, Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake), who share her ramshackle oceanfront Oahu digs, work the same dismal job as maids at a luxe resort hotel and help Anne Marie train for the big Pipe Masters surf tournament. While placing lithe, fierce Rodriguez in the lead would have made Blue Crush truly mack daddy, this girl-power opus comes as close as any today to crafting female heroines out of the who-would- have-guessed-it ranks of teen drama.

Blue Crush not only injects a girl-friendly message into a very-Britney universe, but it underpins its compulsively thrilling big waves with other Deep Thoughts. Screenwriters Stockwell and Lizzy Weiss set up a depressing dichotomy between Anne Marie — who scrambles to not only make the rent but pull together enough change for a mini-mart breakfast — and the partying guests staying at the lap-of-luxury hotel where she works. After racing to drop off Penny at school and squeezing in some waves, the girls spend their afternoon cleaning up the puke and used condoms that NFL superstar guests have left in their hotel rooms.

Anne Marie eventually hooks up with the team’s sole player-with-a-heart-of-gold, Matt Tollman (Matthew Davis), and when she spends her first night in his room, she gingerly straightens the towels on the rack. No matter how high she’s come, she doesn’t forget the girls who are destined to clean up the mess the next morning.

In between Anne Marie’s conflict — to triumph at the upcoming Pipe Masters or fall back into the waiting arms of her football-playing Prince Charming — Weiss and Stockwell somehow find time to address the skewed politics of the island where local surfer boys, as tattooed as Maori Indians, defend their small bit of paradise from the marauding tourists.

Something just feels right about a girl-power movie in which the football players are the spoiled, clueless ones and the rough-around-the-edges surfer girls look far more world-weary and tough.

The surfing scenes in Blue Crush, rendered by Emma E. Hickox’s suitably heart-pounding editing, are heady. They instantly inspire that sickening exhilaration of watching a wall of blue rise up before your eyes. Shots of surfers riding in the washing-machine center of a curled wave are a reminder that despite our 21st-century feelings of invulnerability, nature is still capable of beating our cocky SUV-driving selves to a bloody pulp.

Blue Crush is in every way so not a guy movie. Here, the bad guys are not Anne Marie’s surfing competitors — equally fierce women who do their part to help her succeed. Instead, they are poverty and the willingness of some women to let guys rescue them from it. There’s no competitor or other team to defeat in Blue Crush, and the enormous waves aren’t the villains either, just an incredible hurdle that keeps coming. Like life, you have to ride the waves, but they keep coming and you never really win.