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Review: 'Soul Surfer' not perfect but inspiring

April 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
"Soul Surfer" is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost an arm to a shark. Should you catch this wave or is this flick a wipeout?

In the film, AnnaSophia Robb helps bring Hamilton's story to life. At 13, a shark ripped off Hamilton's left arm while she was surfing. She survived and thrived, but the film shows it wasn't always easy.

When the movie starts, it's all a little too happy -- great family, the love of surfing, the Hawaiian lifestyle. It almost felt like the film was made with that famous pure cane sugar from Hawaii.

But as soon as Hamilton's attacked by the shark, the story quickly feels very real as you see a young woman, her family and her friends dealing with what happened.

Robb is very good as a teenager trying to find her way back to a life she wants to lead and Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid, as her parents, help make this a better movie.

It's fun to see singer Carrie Underwood enter the acting world and Jack Nicholson's daughter, Lorraine, is very convincing as her best friend.

When it comes to the surfing scenes, expect to easily be able to tell there are often doubles being used, but it's forgivable, especially since Robb's surfing double is the real Bethany Hamilton.

Hamilton also has a cameo in film, so look for her during a scene in Thailand.

It's worth staying for the credits, you'll be "in the moment" as you see real footage of Hamilton's journey. Ultimately, it's not perfect but this film is inspiring and I found myself wiping my eyes on more than one occasion.