Reason for the Rating: An intense accident sequence and some thematic material.
Plot Summary: A young surfer loses her arm in a shark attack, and gains a new perspective on her priorities
PopFam Recommends: This is a great movie to see as a family, as it raises questions about seemingly bad things that happen, and overcoming adversity.
If you've never heard of Bethany Hamilton, you probably don't watch much news and will be amazed at this story of courage and hope. If you have heard of Bethany, you will be delighted to see an in-depth picture of her journey from tragedy to triumph.
Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSohia Robb) grew up in Hawaii, and comes from a surfing family. She doesn't just like surfing, she lives for it. In fact, she and her best friend, Alana (Lorraine Nicholson) have recently been sponsored by RipCurl so they can focus solely on surfing. But one Halloween morning, while out enjoying a few hours in the water, a shark attacks Bethany. Due to the quick thinking of Alana's father (Kevin Sorbo), she only loses her arm, and not her life.
Bethany has an amazing view of life. While uncertain about how this will fully affect her life, she is positive in her outlook, and certain that she "can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Yes, the Bible is quoted in Soul Surfer, several times, as are worship songs sung in praise to God. Pretty amazing for a major release movie.
That's not to say she doesn't face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Bethany is determined to not only get back in the water, but to compete as a surfer again. And she does learn to ride her board again, but it's a struggle to stay on the board past the breakers. How can she paddle faster than others with two arms to get the best wave? Unable to move past these difficulties, and unsure how to maneuver through life without surfing, Bethany decides to go on a mission trip to Thailand, serving those caught in the aftermath of the tsunami. It's here that she gains a new perspective, something her youth pastor, Sara (Carrie Underwood) had recently been talking about. Understanding that God has something good for Bethany, a reason she lost her arm.
Upon returning home, Bethany is overwhelmed with the amount of mail she receives from people around the world who have been inspired by her courage and desire to overcome her circumstances. These letters, combined with her trip to Thailand, encourage her to return to surfing.
I found it so interesting the number of well-known people associated with this movie, including Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, and Craig T. Nelson. Typically, movies with an overt Christian message might have one famous person as a star, and those movies usually go straight to DVD. But that's not so with Soul Surfer. From the music to the script, Bethany's faith in God is boldly portrayed with respect, which is not the norm for Hollywood.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• What impressed you the most about Bethany's family and friends?
• How did Bethany go about gaining a new perspective? How did that help her get past her disability?
• Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." God gave Bethany the strength and right perspective to move forward in surfing. Where do you need God's strength to succeed?
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