“Surfer, Dude” is a great mystery movie — the great mystery being why on Earth it was ever made. The title might lead you to believe that the picture is actually about surfing. In fact, though, there’s very little surfing in it, one of the central plot elements being a “wave drought” that lasts for 58 days. And so we watch stoned surfers standing around on the beach gazing dolefully out at the flat, waveless ocean. They wait and wait, and wait some more; and we, increasingly restless with disbelief, wait along with them.
Buff, blond Matthew McConaughey is Steve Addington, a pro surfing star who spends his life touring the world’s great beaches. Woody Harrelson, in a sun-fried blond wig, plays his burnout manager. These two, and their layabout friends, are aging versions of Jeff Spicoli, the pot-addled surf dude played by Sean Penn in the 1982 “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” But while Steve has had considerable success following his adolescent dream, his pals, now approaching middle age, just seem like losers.
The other component of the story involves Eddie Zarno (Jeffrey Nordling), a former surfing luminary who quit the biz and now produces reality-TV shows. His latest project involves having a group of famous surfers installed in a cool Malibu beach pad along with a gaggle of blazingly hot chicks. (They have names like April May.) The girls provide ambient toplessness; the guys stand around guzzling beer, huffing on bongs and saying things like “You just harshed my morning mellow.” (The script also lazily plunders Gilbert Shelton’s late-’60s comic-book series, “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers,” for that well-worn nugget of stoner wisdom, “Herb will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no herb.”)
Alexie Gilmore is sweetly appealing as Steve’s love interest, a reluctant producer named Danni, and Sarah Wright (“The House Bunny“) is irresistibly perky as her pal Stacey. But neither they nor McConaughey and Harrelson, who give it their laid-back all, can redeem this limp and rambling picture, which crawls across the screen for about 30 minutes longer than it has any need to. Talk about your endless summer….
Check out Kurt Loder’s review of “Bangkok Dangerous .”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Surfer, Dude.”
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