By Mary DeTurris Poust
Before I'd even read one review of Soul Surfer, the new movie based on the true story of a teenage surfer who loses her arm in a shark attack, I told my 10-year-old daughter I would take her to see it, not because either of us likes surfing or even swimming in big waves but because I want her to see a story about a girl not much older than herself who overcomes tremendous odds to reclaim her life and the thing that brought her joy. All with a heavy reliance on her Christian faith.
In a world where "entertainment" is overflowing with negative messages and images, I have to believe that Soul Surfer will be a welcome relief, something that is not only suitable for my children but motivating in the best possible ways.
Here's what Busted Halo had to say about Soul Surfer:
Some of the most poignant scenes are those that depict small aspects of life that she had once taken for granted, like the ability to cut a tomato or hold hands with family members while saying grace before a meal. But Bethany’s mind is set on the long-term goal of getting back into the water. One month after the attack — in real life and in the film — she did just that.
...At times this talk of faith may seem clichéd to some viewers, but it is also true to, and an integral part of, Bethany’s real-life story. The doctor calls her a living miracle. Her father reads the Bible beside her bed and reminds her in the hospital that she “can do all things through Him who gives her strength.” The language used in the film reflects Bethany’s reality and is necessary for understanding her motivation and recovery. A story of a young girl overcoming the attack and the injury could have been told without it, but it would not have been about Bethany.
Bethany’s concerns in the film about her future in the surf world and the dating world are also natural ones for a 13-year-old girl, and tween viewers will likely sympathize. Although a few lines of encouragement from Hunt may tend toward the obvious, all too often part of being a teenager is needing to be reassured of the obvious. “You are beautiful,” “Normal is overrated,” Hunt tells her. Not bad reminders for adults, either.
Other reviews I've read were not so positive, with some reviewers obviously put off by the overtly Christian message. But I'm convinced that this movie will be a big hit with teen and tween girls. And why not? Scenes of Hawaii, surfing teenagers, pop music. It's a perfect combination at a perfect time of year. The Christian message is icing on the cake.
Do you plan to see Soul Surfer? If you do, come back and tell us what you think. Read the full Busted Halo review HERE.