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  1. #1
    Ultimate Carrie Fan nannygirl's Avatar
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    Smile Soul Surfer Movie Review from Nanny

    Soul Surfer Movie Review

    Soul Surfer is a movie based on the inspiring true story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who was attacked by a shark when she was thirteen years old (this happened around 2003-2004, for those of you who do not remember). Bethany was an avid surfer, training to become pro, when suddenly it seemed that everything had been ripped away from her. However, with a loving, supportive family and community, faith, and extreme determination, Bethany took to the water again, and in no time she was back on those waves!

    The movie does a great job of portraying the story I briefly outlined above. It starts off with home videos of the real Bethany Hamilton playing around and surfing. Then it does a lovely transition to the thirteen year old Bethany, played by AnnaSophia Robb in her first lead role, as a young child, as she comes up out of the water. The audience is able to form a bond with Bethany and her family for the first twenty or thirty minutes (I am estimating here, so nobody sue me). The bond only helps to ensure that the shark attack really hits home. This movie is not a shark movie, nor is it really a surfing movie (although surfing does play a major part). It is a movie about a girl and her family (Parents are played by the wonderful Academy Award winning Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid), and how they adjust after the attack.

    And adjust they do. At first, the family is at a loss. They have no idea how they will cope. As Cheri, Bethany’s mom, says in the movie to her husband Tom (paraphrasing here), “You know when we brought Noah home from the hospital? He was our first baby and we had no clue what to do. This is like that.” They all struggle with Bethany’s handicap, and when she tells them that Doctor Davis, played by Craig T. Nelson, said she could get back into the water after her stitches came out, they were really concerned. What if she could never surf again? Yes, it had crossed their minds, but it never seemed like a reality.

    Months later (Well, I think it was months. The timeline was a little shaky.), Bethany is back on a surf board, ready to hit the waves! Because this is a movie, after a few tumbles, she is able to ride a wave! Then she starts training for the regional competition, which she qualified for before the accident.

    In order to not spoil the movie, I shall be moving on with the story, the meaning behind the film. As Bethany is training, she is also learning about herself. After the attack, she goes to see her youth leader, Sarah Hill, played by Carrie Underwood in her film debut (a little more on that later). She brings up a lesson that Sarah had taught the kids previously (we see this lesson before, so it is not out of left field – I do not know a surfing term for that) about perspective. She asks, as anyone would, why this had to happen to her. What was the reason? Sarah, of course, could not provide her an answer. But it gets Bethany, and the audience, thinking. Why did this have to happen to her? Bethany ends up going on a mission trip to Thailand to help with the tsunami relief, and she teaches some of the children to surf, realizing that she did not lose everything and that she actually gained something from the accident. Her perspective changed.

    Overall the movie was good. I rated it a 9 out of 10 on the cards we received at the pre-screening to fill out. Would I see it again? Absolutely! It was really enjoyable. The story was motivational, inspirational, and all around touching (I had tears in my eyes, and I am not afraid to say that because I am a girl)! The movie was also good because it was a Christian film, Bethany Hamilton is not shy about her faith, yet it did not try to force that idea onto the viewer. Christianity can be done tastefully in films (like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), or it can be done very badly (like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was still a good film). Soul Surfer was done tastefully. It utilized Christianity in the best way possible. It was part of the plot, fitting in seamlessly. It is what helped Bethany get through her accident, and it gave her the determination to keep doing what she loved (for those of you not keeping up, she loved to surf). The movie was also great in the fact that it had a great cast of stars, such as Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Underwood, Craig T, Nelson, Lorraine Nicholson (daughter of Jack), and the lead AnnaSophia Robb, among others, yet the focus was NOT on who was in the movie. It was on Bethany Hamilton and her story, the struggle that she and her family faced, not only with coping with the injury, the press, and life but also her trying to surf again. In Bethany’s words: “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.” That is how she approached the challenge she was given, and she succeeded!

    Okay, now onto cast performances. Not knowing anything about Bethany Hamilton or her story (I am going to research it now though), I have to say that AnnaSophia did a splendid job! The actual shark attack was a little off in my opinion, but everything before and after that was done extremely well! Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid were wonderful as Bethany’s parents. They portrayed their roles perfectly. They were parents afraid for their daughter, who had just recovered from a shark attack, but they also supported her in her decision to surf. Lorraine Nicholson was good as Bethany’s best friend, and Craig T. Nelson was a great doctor.

    Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: HOW DID CARRIE UNDERWOOD DO IN HER FIRST MOVIE ROLE EVER?

    Carrie Underwood played Bethany’s youth leader, and as such she was there to help Bethany through whatever problems she was going through (in this movie, it is the whole “Her left arm was chopped off by a shark.” thing). The first time we see her, she is up on stage, singing in the church choir (this is the only time she sings in the entire movie, so pay close attention). Then we see her giving the aforementioned lesson on perspective. At the end of that scene, we see her interact with Bethany (I may be getting my events mixed up). And, I must say, she was pretty cold, which I found odd since they were supposed to be really close. Bethany says she cannot go on the mission trip to Mexico because she has to train for the regional competition, and Sarah says that she is sorry and she was hoping Bethany could come. However, I got the impression that she did not mean it, because as soon as she said that she reached down to grab the box Bethany brought (donated goods for the trip to Mexico) and left. Whoa. Then we see her at the Thanksgiving feast, and when Bethany (**spoilers but not really because it will take two seconds on Google to find this**) tells Sarah that she will in fact be competing at regionals (this is after her accident, mind you), Carrie reacts with the same excitement she showed on her How I Met Your Mother episode when Ted showed her his teacup pig. The last time we really see Sarah doing anything (other than at the end when she is watching Bethany on TV) is on the trip to Thailand, and even then it is not much. Carrie seemed to do better in the parts where she really did not have to interact with anybody to the point that she had to have a connection with them. The one scene in which I thought she did well was when Bethany came to see Sarah to talk about the accident and ask why God had let it happen. To summarize, my angry Carrie fans, her acting was not amazing. I definitely do not see an Oscar for best supporting actress (although AnnaSophia Robb might get a nomination if the film gets enough buzz) in her future, however I do not see a Razzie either. I see potential there though, and that is always good. Do not get me wrong. It was NOT a bad performance. However, it was not the best acting in the world. Watching Carrie Underwood on the big screen reminded me a lot of the twenty-one year old who nervously auditioned for American Idol when it was in its fourth season, the one who had never flown on an airplane before. Do you remember that? She had talent. That much was obvious, but the judges did tell her to work on her stage presence. A relatively short time later (5 or 6 years), she has won numerous awards, including the Academy Country Music Entertainer of the Year award TWICE, and headlined two successful tours. I watched her evolve from the young woman who called Simon Cowell "scary" right before she auditioned to the woman who flawlessly puts on a two hour show. In fact, on the Play On tour, she used props (a "flying truck") and she still managed to captivate the audience with her amazing vocals and her witty chatter. She made the transformation into an excellent performer, and I hope to be able to see her do the same thing as an actress.

    I am not trying to be mean. I love Carrie Underwood. I just want her to know (because she totally reads my blog and will take this message to heart) that she still has room to make improvements. I am saying this because I care. Now, I am willing to bet that all of you, after you have read my review of Carrie's acting, will go see the movie yourself (it opens on April 8th. That is a Friday.) and vehemently deny that my blog held any merit because Carrie was AMAZING in the movie, using the various tweets and articles declaring the same as your evidence (and when I see it again, I may think the same thing). Or you will see the truth in my words, and make up excuses instead. That is what I started to do (I mean, hey, she took a red-eye from the Super Bowl and was on set filming a few hours later. She was only there for like two days. Give the girl a break!) before I realized that I do not need to make excuses. That was her performance, and I am perfectly fine with it. She, as far as I know, has had two acting roles (one in How I Met Your Mother, the other in Soul Surfer) and she was good in both. She will only get better (might I say in her role in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, the one that has been rumored???). To be perfectly honest with you, my readers (or the one person still reading because I have yet to make you angry), I only saw the movie because of Carrie Underwood. And I am happy that I did. It was a wonderful movie, and Carrie delivered a solid performance!

    I know what you are asking yourselves now: What about Taylor Swift? To some, that may seem an odd question to ask. Miss Swift did not grace us with her presence in this film, nor is she affiliated with it in any way (that I am aware of). However, it is no secret that Carrie fans do indeed compare the two artists, and also Taylor Swift has had the same amount of acting experience (in CSI: Miami and in Valentine's Day). I am glad to inform you that Carrie did indeed surpass Taylor's performance in Valentine's Day, however I think that her (meaning Carrie's) performance was equal to that of Taylor in CSI. Why is that? Well, because in CSI, Taylor seemed to overact, but she was right for the part (as far as I can tell). The opposite is true for Carrie. She appeared to underact, yet she was the one for the part (yet I am still fuzzy on why they cast her). While Taylor needs to tone down the emotion, Carrie needs to turn it up. Really, I need to see her connect with the other characters.

    Of course, I may be biased because I am a fan of hers (now you think I am crazy because my review was in all accounts lukewarm). I say that I am biased, because I know what Carrie can do. I have seen her do those things. I have seen her connect with her audience on an emotional level, whether it be on stage at a concert or in a music video (I cried when I watched Temporary Home for the first time). She CAN do it! I am just waiting for the day that she does.

    What else can I say about this movie that I have not already briefly outlined? Oh, yeah, GO SEE THE MOVIE! It opens Friday, April 8th, 2011. I will be there. Will you?

    XOXO,

    Nanny

    PS. Carrie was really, really attractive in the movie! So if you do not care about her acting or the story itself, go to the movie to see her!
    Last edited by nannygirl; 01-27-2011 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Geez, no one told me I had a typo! That was embarrassing! :p

  • #2
    Carrie Guru
    Kizmet311's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for your review! I will be going to see Soul Surfer when it opens even if I have to go alone, but like you I am only going to see Carrie. Otherwise, I have no interest in the movie. It doesn't surprise me that Carrie was disconnected from the other characters. She seems to be someone that takes a lot to open up and show emotion. We've seen it on a smaller scale when her music really movies her and in the Temporary Home video. But that is Carrie's comfort zone - the music world. I'm sure Carrie was a little intimidated doing her first movie role and being a little out of her element and it may have been harder for her to just relax and get into character. Considering Sarah Hill dated Bethany's brother, I'm sure they were incredibly close and there should have been a warm/loving connection between the characters I would think. Better though, for Carrie to try out her acting skills in a movie like this than a big blockbuster. Chances are this movie won't warrant much attention from the press past it's opening weekend and initial reviews, so the less said about Carrie's acting (if it's not great) the better. I don't mind you being honest. Carrie is not an actress by nature and I think she probably does better with the comedic stuff because she doesn't have to try so hard to make that emotional connection.
    "Thank you for that ‘Captain Obvious’ sense of humor because you know what, we not only hit the high notes, you forgot to mention we generally hit the ‘right’ notes as well."
    -Kelly Clarkson to Scott Borchetta about American Idol artists
    Thanks so much Danielle!

  • #3
    Ultimate Carrie Fan HuiZ's Avatar
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    WHAT? You watched it already?!?!?!?! >:[ *JEALOUS*

  • #4
    Ultimate Carrie Fan TOPDOG1001's Avatar
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    Well, it was her first acting gig. I wouldn't expect an Oscar winning performance right away.

  • #5
    Carrie Guru Jade_kt's Avatar
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    Well no matter what I'm watching this movie because of Carrie otherwise I probably wouldn't watch it. I'm not going to be too hard on Carrie if her acting isn't up to par to the other actor/actresses in the movie since Carrie isn't a professional actor/actress and this is her first movie gig. So long as Carrie isn't horrible or so ackward that she sticks out like a sore thumb then I will be happy. Still can't wait to watch the movie. Sounds like overall the movie is great/entertaining and has a good message. I will be enjoying Carrie's first acting gig

  • #6
    Carrie Guru Jade_kt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOPDOG1001 View Post
    Well, it was her first acting gig. I wouldn't expect an Oscar winning performance right away.
    Agree. As long as it isn't horrible acting or ackward moments then I'm okay. Don't expect an Oscar winning performance from her. Just that she was able to fit in overall w/ the movie rather than stick out ackwardly. By the way, was her part relatively short or long?

  • #7
    Ultimate Carrie Fan HuiZ's Avatar
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    Thanks for the long review Nanny! And thanks for being honest about what you think of Carrie's acting as well. Regardless I will still watch it for Carrie lol.

    I was only hoping for a solid performance, definitely not an Oscar winning one for sure. Based on HIMYM, I'm not surprised that Carrie under-acts (she did under-act there IMO). It's the potential I'm interested in

  • #8
    Carrie Guru Jade_kt's Avatar
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    ^^^Agree. Carrie's acting in HIMYM wasn't the best acting in the world but definitely not horrible either. She did a solid job though and I thought she was cute in HIMYM. So if Carrie's acting is the same in this movie like her HIMYM gig, then I'm good. Now if her acting is great like in her TH music video, then that would have been even better Either way, I will be watching this movie because of Carrie since I will always support her. Plus there is a great cast in the movie who I'm sure made the movie great. Sounds like overall you liked the movie and thought it was good so that's what is important. I'm sure I will enjoy the movie too then when I watch it too

  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HuiZ View Post
    Thanks for the long review Nanny! And thanks for being honest about what you think of Carrie's acting as well. Regardless I will still watch it for Carrie lol.

    I was only hoping for a solid performance, definitely not an Oscar winning one for sure. Based on HIMYM, I'm not surprised that Carrie under-acts (she did under-act there IMO). It's the potential I'm interested in
    Totally agree with you on Nanny should be thanked for being honest.

  • #10
    Ultimate Carrie Fan AIgrl06's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review, Nanny! I'm so jealous of you, though!

    And I love the honesty. No one should be expecting her to knock it out of the park her first time out. If she wants to be a really good actress, she's got to work hard at it like everyone else and keep doing movies. I think it's great that she's just taking small parts, I think it shows us that she knows what she is and isn't capable of and that she's trying to improve. And what better way to hone your craft than by working with respected actors like Quaid and Hunt?

  • #11
    Junior Carrie Follower Carebear1994's Avatar
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    I love the ending... " Carrie was really, really attractive in the movie!" Bhaha!! That is quite important!!!

  • #12
    Carrie Guru pklongbeach's Avatar
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    As I have now seen the clip on ET, in which she has a "real moment" I am going to wait for my opinion till I see it in the context of the movie.
    But the one overwelming thing that people say about Carrie is that she "underplays".
    I think maybe the director was doing his/her job in casting Carrie in that maybe that was something that attracted him/her to Carrie.
    There is a fasinating juxtaposition with Carrie that makes what she does seem easy (even unattached) when in fact she is boiling over underneath.
    Film has a way of picking up inner emotions that theater and live shows don't.
    We have known from the day we met Carrie Underwood that she is an introspective person. That does not make her a bad actress (I know you didn't say that). I just want to point to the fact that very often "less is more".
    It's interesting that you compared her to the Carrie we met 5 years ago.
    It is very possible that these kinds of deep seeded "controlled" emotions were exactly what the director asked of her (or was blessed with her), as in the film she is an authoritive figure but also a young women herself.
    It reminds me that some people act strangely just seeing a person with out a limb. It would be pretty strange to try to act naturally around a friend or student when they stand before you without limbs.
    I am just saying that I am going to hold out hope that the performnace was understated for a reason. It added tention, it made the viewer uncomfortable. That may be just what the director was looking for.
    Clearly you have looked at this and given us a very informed opinion. But I am going to walk in with as open a mind as possible, and hope that she exceeds my expectations.
    Actually, she already has.

  • #13
    Insane Carrie Fan abbeyjones18's Avatar
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    Thank you for the review! I was starting to wonder if anyone was able to see one of the previews. My thoughts (lol ):

    - First, I love how they are previewing it in churches.
    - It doesn't sound like it's preachy at all. Yes, Bethany and her family big on their faith, but it doesn't sound like it's preachy. It kind of reminds me of The Blind Side: great story, a family that is big on their faith (the kids even went to a Christian school), but not really preachy...it sounds mainstream, inspirational, which seems to be "in" right now. I think that is a great thing!
    - I honestly wasn't expecting anything "big" in a sense for Carrie. Yes she has a part in the movie, and it truly is great. But, I'm not expecting any awards for it...at least the big awards. It sounds like Carrie's character is imporant, though, and I'm pleased to hear that Carrie did a good job (at least that was my impression of it!).
    - Finally, I do think that even if Carrie wasn't in this movie, I would still see it! It sounds like one of the movies that we would watch in our youth club at church from time to time.

  • #14
    Carrie Guru Jade_kt's Avatar
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    By the way, I think Carrie's understated demeanor is what attracted me to her on AI Not big on over the top personalities; find it annoying generally.

  • #15
    Carrie Fans Legend teesharky's Avatar
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    Thanx Nanny. I actually prefer people who under-act, to people who over-act like Taylor did in Valentine's Day. Less is often more.

    Also, Carrie got really good reviews for her acting from everyone on twitter who has seen the film so far.... so I think sometimes we can be a bit too nitpicky and critical of carrie, because we want the best for her.

    Thanks for the review though. Glad to hear she did a decent job. We can't expect award winning performances right off the bat.

  • #16
    Insane Carrie Fan abbeyjones18's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jade_kt View Post
    By the way, I think Carrie's understated demeanor is what attracted me to her on AI Not big on over the top personalities; find it annoying.
    Yeah, the review makes Carrie's role seem actually perfect for a first-time movie role: small, yet important. Plus, even though Carrie's character is close to Bethany and her family, the movie isn't really about Carrie...it's about Bethany...Carrie is just in it...I hope that makes sense, lol...

  • #17
    Ultimate Carrie Fan nannygirl's Avatar
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    I really only mentioned the Oscars because they're coming up soon. I didn't really expect a performance that a seasoned actress like Meryl Streep would have given, guys!

    Also, as far as Sarah dating Bethany's brother. That was never shown. Not that important. And I don't think Sarah interacted much with Cheri or Tom. It was mostly just with Bethany.

    And, guys, Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her first performance so it can be done. If you can remember, she was also on Idol...and she didn't even win! So, yeah, I wasn't expecting Carrie to deliver an exquisite performance, nor was I expecting her to actually win any awards (her role was seriously not large enough to merit one anyway). I was just saying that it could have been better.

    http://whitneyworld.mobi/jenniferhud...ons-oscar-win/

  • #18
    Carrie Fans Legend teesharky's Avatar
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    ^ Thanx nanny. I wanted to add that your review was really well written, and detailed. So thanx so much for doing this for us. I am glad to hear Carrie did well overall, with just some room for improvement of course. That is much better to hear then that she was a trainwreck like TS. lol

  • #19
    Insane Carrie Fan abbeyjones18's Avatar
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    I also thought that the review was very well-written and detailed, and yet, it didn't ruin or spoil anything, so great job Nanny!

  • #20
    Carrie Guru Jade_kt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teesharky View Post
    ^ Thanx nanny. I wanted to add that your review was really well written, and detailed. So thanx so much for doing this for us. I am glad to hear Carrie did well overall, with just some room for improvement of course. That is much better to hear then that she was a trainwreck like TS. lol
    Yeah didn't care for TS's performance on Valentine's Day but I have to admit I thought she did decent on CSI. So if Carrie's performance was equal to that then that is good imo.


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