He was a haole. A barney. A kook on and off the waves.
But he would become a soul surfer.
“Scrub it, kook!”
“He’s so haole
he don’t even know he’s haole
My coworkers, the Mouth from the South and the Friendly Irish Giant, use lines from this all the time. So I was forced to rent it, to understand what the hell they were saying. I was not disappointed. I’ve come up with a new rating system for 80’s movies.
Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Quotability Rating: High
Cheese Factor: Medium
Could it be made today? With girls, it was called Blue Crush
Gratuitous Boobs: Zero
Rick Kane from is a surfer from Arizona who after winning $500 in a surfing contest, goes to Oahu to ride the big waves. I’m not sure how often you can surf in a landlocked state, but from how he handles the big Hawaii waves, one can guess he didn’t have a lot of competition in that surfing contest. He’ll be in too deep when he gets to the North Shore, where he’s a haole, a barney, a kook!
Rick hops on the first plane to Hawaii with nothing but his board and a box of colored pencils, since he is also an artist, despite not knowing the difference between a drawing and a painting. The first thing he does is track down some old dude working in a strip club, who once said Rick could crash with him if he ever came to Hawaii. See, you should always call first when visiting old friends, or strangers who once invited you over in a drunken stupor, because they might just change their mind. This is the first of many misfortunes that befall poor Rick in his quest to shred on the awesome North Shore wave-age. Luckily a bar brawl breaks out and he doesn’t have to pay for his $20 drink, because he sneaks out with two Aussie surfers he recognizes from surfer magazines. They pile into a Jeep and race off into the night, because surfers are a brotherhood. A brahtherhood. And then to haze him, they make him gather sugarcane during a fire, oy! You only got one? You pussy!
They even surf on bikes, dude!
On the beach the next day Rick stashes his stuff behind a bush and gets on his board, to show how badly he sucks. He rides a wave that his Aussie pals call a ripple, I’ve seen bigger waves in a toilet, mate! Then the Huoi, a gang of native Hawaiian surfers descended from kings, show up and bully their way into his wave. This where he is noted to be so “haole he don’t even know he’s haole, brah!” A haole, pronounced “howley” is what native Hawaiians call outsiders, foreigners, tourists, and other doofuses who stole their belove islands and come to shit things up so the North Shore will someday look more like the Jersey Shore. No wonder they are treated with such disgust. Plus, Rick gets in the way of their leader and screws up his wave! Totally not cool, brah.
Hey haole, I play the douche in this movie, brah!
He leaves, humiliated, only to find his art stuff stolen. That’s what you get for hiding it in a bush, barney! While looking for a place to stay, he meets Turtle, a local surfer and board sander who tells him what a haole is. “Ya know, a barney, a kook, in and out of the water, yeah?” They go to a party that night where not only is everyone wearing goofy costumes like a shark jaw or a toilet seat around their neck, but The Lords of the New Church is playing. One of my favorite forgotten 80’s bands, their involvement makes this movie an instant classic in my eyes. “Murder Style! Livin’ in night-time…” they even have two token punks in leather jackets at the party, although everyone else is wearing shorts and muscle shirts. They must have died of heat exhaustion shortly after the party, but it’s not an 80’s movie without punks causing trouble. They don’t cause trouble here, so I’m sure that scene was deleted.
The party sets the stage for the complex rivalry between the Soul Surfers, represented by Chandler (not the guy from friends- ed.) and the hot-doggin’ free-stylers, led by Lance Burkhart, kind of the surfer magazine covers and contests. In the end, Rick must choose the proper path, which is pretty easy to choose because why would you follow this guy?
Lance and his hypno-nipple.
At the party Rick meets Kianni, a hot Hawaiian girl. But oh nooo!! The Houi are there cockblocking him! “I thought you were leavin’, brah?” For such a line there is no retort. Rick leaves in shame. But his total humiliation is not yet complete. In the morning he surfs with Turtle, and learns about these things called reefs. You’d think a surfer, even one from Arizona, might know of reefs and their dangers to surfers, from reading about them in the surfer mags he recognizes everyone from. But no, Rick learns the hard way. Turtle imparts the wisdom of where the wave breaks, and at all costs, “don’t be there when the wave breaks, or you gonna get drilled!”
Guess where Rick is when the wave breaks. Yes, he get drilled, brah. His board broken, his back gashed on the reef, he stumbles off the beach a broken man Lucky for him, Kianni shows up to tell him about the bacteria in the coral that will scar him for life! Hell, even the kids there know to get it out, you gotta “Scrub it, kook!” Kianni has a better idea, taking him to a shady spot to apply aloe to his wounds.
“Ever notice that haole also spells a-hole?”
Back at Turtle’s shack, Rick finally gets to meet Chandler, the great board shaper. Lo and behold, he has bought Rick’s box of art pencils for $20 off wherever stolen goods are sold. Rick proves it is his, by identifying the rolled-up “painting” underneath the lid. Never mind that it is obviously colored pencil, and we never see a paintbrush. Rick is so good he paints with pencils. Chandler is suitably impressed, and trades Rick the drawing of a surfer for room and board, soul surfing lessons, and the wisdom of the ages. Five minutes later, Rick is making fun of Chandler’s logo and offering to draw a new one. This is the graphic designer subplot, and because Rick eventually leaves to go to school in New York, we must assume he died surfing the East River, or is somewhere downtown making dealtoys and smoking enormous amounts of weed. (in-joke for the graphic designers in the audience)
You see, I was expecting a simple movie about surfing, but they manage to cram so much depth into 90 minutes that I had to like this movie. Chandler is the Zen surfer, who only wants a “Big Gun” board and to surf big waves. He knows that “like the Eskimos have over a hundred words for snow, the Hawaiians have over a hundred to describe the water.” He is also the master of the training montage, teaching Rick on a 300 year old koa wood surfboard with no fins. A creepy surf photographer guy with big eyebrows stalks his every move. He felt eerily familiar, and it turns out he ‘s John Paragon, who played Jambi the Genie in PeeWee’s Playhouse. Not sure I’d want him filming me at the beach.
That’s cool enough to get him into Kianni’s grass skirt, and Rick has a showdown with the Houi Douche when they catch him messing with a local girl. The Houi stick together, but Rick says if they are truly descended from Hawaiian kings, they will let him settle it one on one. In reality he’d be found dead with a pineapple kicked up his hula-hole, but in the movie he wins the fight and gets a tiny bit of respect from them for not being a pussy.
However, Rick is still a pussy when he hitches a ride from an old Hawaiian dude who gives him some homemade jerky. It’s pork jerky and Rick looks like he just ate a turd taco. Maybe he’s a Jewish Arizona surfer, but his aversion to pork jerky is never fully explained.
Then comes the final battle, every movie has one- as we learned earlier, there is a schism in the world of surfing between the hot-doggers and the soul surfers, and it is time to choose sides! Rick wants to compete, but Chandler thinks competition brings out the worst in people. Rick joins the contest and thankfully Chandler doesn’t storm off or disown him and drown him in board wax. He’s too cool for that.
At the big showdown we get to hear the same song twice, The Nature of the Beast by Angel City. Remember them, from the 80’s? Me neither. Apparently that’s just their American name, they were the Angels in Australia and probably got in there because of all the Aussie surfers involved with this movie. The soundtrack is actually pretty good, and I’m disappointed that it’s not on Amazon. The surfing action is very good and unsurprisingly, real pro surfers play quite a few parts- Laird Hamilton as the dick Lance, the two Aussies, and Gerry Lopez (Subotai from Conan the Barbarian!) plays Vince, the tough leader of the Houi.
Lance gets shown for the hotdoggin’ douchebag (hotdouchin’ hosebag?) he is during the final round, when he cheats by pulling Rick’s rope. The one on his surfboard, you sicko. Rick shows he has digested the lessons of Soul Surfing when he is chill about losing, and has to tell Chandler to let it go. Even Vince gives him begrudging respect. But Hawaii is not for Rick, even though he is honorarily no longer an a-haole. He’s got to get to art school, so he can fight for jobs with a bunch of kids who learned photoshop on their own.
Rick, you kook. You should have stayed on the North Shore as a soul surfer, riding Turtle’s boards and eating pork jerky.
Man against nature… the North Shore.