‘The Perfect Wave’: Surf the swells or serve the Lord?
By MARY HOULIHAN For Sun-Times Media July 10, 2014 6:24PM
Surfer Ian (Scott Eastwood) leaves God behind until a fateful night dive changes his course in “The Perfect Wave.” | GVN RELEASING
‘THE PERFECT WAVE’ ★★1⁄2
Ian McCormack Scott Eastwood
Mrs. McCormack Cheryl Ladd
Mr. McCormack Patrick Lyster
Annabel Rachel Hendrix
GVN Releasing presents a film directed by Bruce Macdonald and written by Roger Hawkins, William A. Wood III and Billy Wood. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated PG. Opens Friday at AMC Loews in Crestwood.
Updated: August 12, 2014 6:14AM
An inspirational story is accented by the surfing life in Bruce Macdonald’s “The Perfect Wave.” Based on the true story of Ian McCormack, who grew up in New Zealand and at 24 set off to surf the great waves of Australia, Bali and Africa, it’s an uneasy mix of the hang-loose mindset (“the church of the perfect wave”) and reborn Christian fundamentalism.
At first glance, it’s a story about the wandering search for that one-in-a-million wave that, as Ian says, is “a surfer’s glimpse into eternity.” Beautiful cinematography capturing the wave dancers shows why this just might be true.
However, Ian (the likable Scott Eastwood, son of Clint) is the black sheep of the family. So the film’s other side is about his search for something that he vaguely feels is missing in his life. At a young age, he informed his devout and dismayed mother (Cheryl Ladd) he no longer believed in God. Now his religion and higher calling are found in the surf.
Ian’s parents worry about the worldly evils he’s about to encounter. Actually he is levelheaded about the temptations and pretty much ignores them all. This all makes for a pretty bland, scrubbed-clean film as we watch Ian wander from spot to spot viewing everything at arms length. When he meets the lovely and also searching Anabel, he begins to see possibilities for a new future. But when that ends in a lover’s quarrel, he once again moves on.
The religious awakening at the end of the film is delivered in a heavy-handed manner, paralleling what McCormack, now an evangelical minister in London, says happened to him while on a night dive off the African island of Mauritius. That incident was the turning point in McCormack’s life.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to resurrect this film that boasts lots of message but very little plot and character development. That said, “The Perfect Wave” is aimed at a certain audience that will appreciate its message and let slide its deficiencies.