A few months ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to pre-screen a new movie that releases in theaters nationwide tomorrow (Friday, April 8, 2011) called "Soul Surfer." Made by Sony Pictures, it includes an all-star cast including Helen Hunt (whom I loved in Mad About You), Dennis Quaid, AnnaSophia Robb (from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and American Idol's Carrie Underwood in her film debut. The movie depicts the true life story about a thirteen year old surfer from Hawaii named Bethany Hamilton who endured an unimaginable tragedy when she lost her left arm in a shark attack on Halloween day in 2003.
I remember when the event happened in real life, as Rick Bundschuh, one of the writers at interlinc (where I worked at the time), lives on the same island of Kauai. I wasn't sure how Sony would depict this story of a girl who was so well known after the tragedy for her strong Christian faith, but I have to say that I was not disappointed. The pre-screening was introduced by a marketing rep, Bob Gordon, who asked the audience before the show started, "What if Hollywood decided to make a film about a normal Christian family?... Well funny thing, Hollywood decided to make a film about a normal Christian family and this is that film."
What impressed me most about the film was that the production quality was by far the highest standard that I've ever seen in a movie that focuses so heavily on characters with a Christian faith. This was not made by a cast of all volunteers, but rather has the same production quality of any other movie playing in your local theater this weekend. However, all of that being said, while it's a film about Christian people, it does not get preachy or have any kind of underlying conversion message. It just shows how this family leans on their faith to hold them together and deals with a very tough situation. Bethany did not allow the loss of her arm to stop her in anything that she wanted to pursue in life, despite the great odds that were against her to achieve those dreams. Perhaps my favorite part of the movie was the end credits, which showed real life home movies shot by her video-enthusiastic brothers that directly paralleled with earlier scenes from the film.
Helen Hunt does a superb job as Bethany's mother, Cheri Hamilton, while Dennis Quaid played her very encouraging father, Tom Hamilton. Carrie Underwood makes her big screen debut as Bethany's youth pastor from church. I even recognized Kevin Sorbo (from the 90's show Xena, Princess Warrior) who starred as a very key family friend during this story. There is a lot more that I could say about how inspiring this film was to me, but I know it definitely will be to thousands of young girls who need a fabulous and inspiring role model to look up to in life. Read more about the real life Bethany Hamilton here on her website, and watch the trailer below. Check out http://www.soulsurferthemovie.com to read more about the movie and find it at your local theater this weekend!