Spling reviews Girls Can’t Surf, Seal Team and The Book of Henry as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a sports documentary, an animated adventure and a crime drama thriller.
Starting off with a documentary now on Showmax…
GIRLS CAN’T SURF
A band of renegade surfers recount how they took on the male-dominated professional surfing world to achieve equality and change the sport forever.
Writer-Director: Christopher Nelius
Features: Jodie Cooper, Layne Beachley and Wendy Botha
– This bittersweet sports documentary returns to the ’80s to a time when professional women’s surfing kicked off, “a circus of fluro colours, peroxide hair and radical male egos”.
– The film focusses on Australia and captures the Zeitgeist of the international competition, rivalries, developments and politics with a special focus on gender inequality.
– Girls Can’t Surf is mostly powered by women and represents an honest, humourous and important account of the not-so-golden age of surfing.
– While mostly blonde and blue-eyed, the collective of interviewees represent some of the biggest names of all-time: Jodie Cooper, Frieda Zamba, Pauline Menczer, Lisa Andersen, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha and Layne Beachley.
– Their stick-it-to-the-man attitude fuels the documentary, which bristles with life thanks to brutally honest and laugh-out-loud funny reflections.
– The spectrum of absolute characters is what makes this “docco” such a delight, moving from Wendy Botha’s cantankerous element to beloved surfer of the people, Pam Burridge, and then onto to squirrely go-getter, Layne Beachley.
– Girls Can’t Surf offers insights into the sport’s sluggish evolution, professionalism, outdated views and rise of surf brand sponsorship.
– A comprehensive overview, there’s also space for an emotional perspective on the quest for equality, bucking societal prejudices as well as overcoming industry setbacks.
– Many of these women turned to the waves as an escape from difficult home lives, as a career prospect or for medical reasons making their dominance of the sport a true triumph of the human spirit.
An excellent 8 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a movie now on Netflix…
Fearless seal Quinn assembles a squad of misfit recruits to stand up to ruthless sharks.
Directors: Greig Cameron and Kane Croudace
Features the voice talents of J.K. Simmons, Patrick Warburton and Sharlto Copley
– Seal Team is a long-awaited animated adventure comedy from Triggerfish, a local production company, who created Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba.
– Set in Cape Town, more specifically around Seal Island, the deep sea adventure has a local flavour with the tide of war between seals and sharks.
– Essentially a blend of The A-Team and The Penguins of Madagascar, the ragtag crew of misfits fall in line under the command of a battle-weary leader.
– A love letter to the ’80s, there are a great deal of influences, references and inside jokes – some on the nose and others much more subtle.
– Already quirky having anthropomorphic seals going through a boot camp to take on apex predators, its wacky and absurdist sense of humour is more hit than miss.
– Armed with a considerable and recognisable voice cast, the performances are fun with a particularly energetic Warburton.
– While Seal Team is a modest animated production when you contrast it against the lofty standards of giants such as Disney-Pixar and Dreamworks, it outperforms itself.
– Fluorescent colours brighten the underwater scenes, it pulls off ambitious action sequences, imaginative comedy and keeps adding to its delightful mix of oddball characters.
– Wacky, breezy and playing to pure escapist fun, this silly and enjoyable Seals vs. Sharks animated adventure comedy demonstrates the studio’s steady progress.
It did just enough to get… A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
THE BOOK OF HENRY
With instructions from her genius son’s carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Martell and Jacob Tremblay
– The Book of Henry is an elusive crime drama thriller, which starts down the road of Disturbia only to make some handbrake turns into dangerous genre play.
– This is part of its charm, remaining unpredictable, inventive and constantly morphing to defy audience expectations.
– Already trying to throw the tarp over an ambitious yet intriguing story concept, these bumpy interchanges risk losing viewers along the way.
– What serves as its mainstay are the wholehearted performances from its talented ensemble, which also includes: Dean Norris, Sarah Silverman and Lee Pace.
– The sincerity of the family trio in Watts, Martell and Tremblay keep this applecart on the gravel road as it spirals up a tricky mountain pass.
– Watts brings authenticity, Martell is pure of heart and Tremblay knows how to dial into the emotion of a scene.
– The Book of Henry isn’t a great film but it’s fresh enough to entertain from the humour of a household run by an 11-year-old to the suspense of a scandal waiting to break.
– Brimming with optimism and frustrated by apathy, it’s a spirited tale that takes you to some unexpected places with enough material for two standalone films.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
GIRLS CAN’T SURF… an engaging, entertaining, funny, eye-opening, powerful and characterful chronicle of surf culture and gender politics… An excellent 8!
SEAL TEAM… a colourful, fun, nutty, imaginative and delightful animated action adventure comedy and ’80s throwback… A satisfactory 6!
THE BOOK OF HENRY… heartfelt and sincere performances guide this ambitious, unpredictable and entertaining multi-genre tale… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!