I’ve been hearing a lot about Nick Pollet’s and Vaughn Blakey’s new film The Greatest Surf Movie in the Universe, which premieres today in Australia.
AND I’M GLAD! Once more, it looks like we are going to get a little bit of weird theater in a surf film. We’ve been due. This one’s a three-year stop-motion animation project. It’s complete with dolls like the ones seen in Team America: World Police, and I find that just wonderful. Frankly, I can’t even tell if there’s any surfing in the film. I’m just glad the odd-ometer is cranked up full tilt.
We need more surf films like Loose Change, Campaign, and Doped Youth. No need to stop there. I’m all for more like North Shore, Blue Crush, and Point Break, too. Hell, give me another In God’s Hands while you’re at it. I love me a young, brooding Shane Dorian with a head full of hair.
There’s still plenty to be explored and desired in surf film. Nobody has truly ever gotten surfing right on the silver screen, and I think we’d all like to see that happen.
Here’s a video from GQ Sports of John John Florence breaking down surf scenes in Hollywood movies. I know it’s older, but it reminds me of what a nice, wholesome dude the 2-time World Champ is.
As you’ll see in JJF’s breakdown, Hollywood can’t get it right; and, if we’re being honest here, it’s unlikely we’re ever going to get another The Endless Summer. Still, we should always strive for that Bruce Brown lightning shot, but it’s also nice to dabble in the strange every once in a while. This film by Pollet and Blakey seems to offer plenty of that.
The title alone tells you what you need to know. There’s something to be said about a title that does its job well. The simpler the better, which is why The Endless Summer is still the greatest of them all. All it needed was 3 words and you knew what you were in for. Imagine how the elevator pitch went.
“I got three words for you, Jerry…The…Endless…Summer.”
The only other title of a surf film I can recall to do it as effectively is Surf’s Up (2007), the computer-animated mockumentary starring the voices of Shia Labeouf and Jeff Bridges about a penguin who just wants to shred when the waves get big. That’s a classic surf movie and I’ll die on that hill.
All of this talk and excitement about Vaughn and Nick’s upcoming flick got me shuffling through my brain for an old idea I had for a surf movie.
Now, more than ever, I’m determined to make it a reality. The title will tell it all, just like my favorites.
It’ll be a classic movie-going experience. It’s going to have EVERYTHING you want in a film – not just a surf film, but a film! A cinematic roller coaster filled with love, romance, revenge, laughs, heartbreak, magic…Tom Curren starring as the famed wizard Merlin and Mason Ho as the orphan who, under Merlin’s strange tutelage, will eventually become KING ARTHUR!
Tell me that that doesn’t sound like a freakin’ winner.
It’ll be loosely based on the classic 1963 Disney animated film and 1938 book by T.H. White of the same name, The Sword in the Stone.
My version: THE BOARD IN THE STONE! (Maybe we can get Volcom involved?) I know you don’t need me to, but let me just explain some of the finer plot points…
The film starts after the King of Shredland, portrayed by the great one Kelly Slater, dies without an heir to his throne. A board magically appears in a stone at the base of the castle. There’s an inscription on the stone proclaiming that whoever removes the board from the stone is the rightful King of Shredland. Noone is able to remove the board and it becomes forgotten, sending Shredland into The Great Lull.
After years without waves, there’s finally a swell forecasted and a contest has been called. The winner will be crowned King. As the Knights of Shredland (Gabe, Italo, Felipe, and John John) prepare for the contest, Merlin (Tom Curren) takes Arthur (Mason Ho) on an adventure to distant lands. Using Ho Stevie! car racks they strap their noble sticks to the roof of Merlin’s Station Wagon and begin Arthur’s quest to learn the different skills needed to fulfill his destiny.
“What’s my destiny?” asks Arthur.
“To bibbity bobbity shred!” replies Merlin in song.
It should be noted here that Merlin’s smart-talking, wise-cracking sidekick, Archimedes, will be played by Sterling Spencer. That is, if we can get him.
*NOTE: Archimedes is an owl.
It is Archimedes who reminds Merlin and an eager Arthur that they shouldn’t drive with their boards exposed on the roof of the car like that. He brandishes three Ho Stevie! surf socks.
“Thank you Archimedes,” says Arthur, as a pipe-smoking Merlin smiles knowingly with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well done, Archimedes,” mumbles the old sea goat.
Merlin, Arthur, and Archimedes travel to the first distant land and meet a terrifying, tattooed Cyclops, portrayed, ideally, by Christian Fletcher. There, the Cyclops challenges young Arthur to an air-off in the punchy beach break. Out in the water, the Cyclops summons the help of the evil Novelty Wave Water Nymphs (led by Ben Gravy!?), forcing Arthur to engage them in battle…a paddle battle.
With the Nymphs defeated, Arthur turns his attention back to the Cyclops.
Merlin utters some magical words (again in song) and Arthur flies like a bird, besting the cigarette-smoking and strangely seductive Cyclops* at his own game.
*Okay, I know this is from the Odyssey, but I did say “loosely” based.
Next, they drive to an even further and more distant land, where they meet a trio of Australian barrel mongers played by Parko, Fanno, and Taj (and Dingo, if we can get him). The mongers have an air-tight hold on all the barrels in the area. Merlin, Arthur, and Archimedes try to reason with them, but the mongers keep putting “o’s” on the ends of words and it’s difficult to come to any understanding.
Desperate, Arthur challenges the three barrel mongers to a tube-a-thon. Young Arthur, again with some fancy spellwork by Merlin, out-duels the three mongers and is granted passage to all barrels from thereon.
The final test is an unexpected one, but Merlin, the salty old rascal, is full of tricks.
“You must beat the GREAT ONE…to be great!” laughs the Wizard as he points up to the sky. Looking down at them is a giant, translucent, shiny orb.
“Is that the sun? It looks weird. It’s so tan,” says Arthur.
Just then, the orb turns. It’s got a face! And that face belongs to the late King of Shredland, Kelly Slater. When he died, he became a God. He summons them up to the heavens of Paradise with one swipe of his hand. The funny thing about Paradise is that it looks just like The Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.
The God of Paradise, Kelly Slater, bestows knowledge upon the young mind of Arthur. He tells him that he must be a well-balanced surfer to be a worthy King. The wave that he, the God of Paradise, created requires just that – balance.
In a hyper-stylized 80s montage reminiscent of the hit film The Karate Kid (not the remake!) the God Kelly Slater, in a very Yoda-like way, teaches and encourages young Arthur (Mason Ho) to try and try again until he gets it right and has achieved balance.
With Merlin pleased, they return to Shredland just in time to see the end of the contest. The winning Knight (Gabe Medina) tries to remove the board from the stone, but cannot. The other Knights try their luck, but it remains stuck. It is then that Arthur emerges from the crowd with Merlin and Archimedes at his side. Surf Angels (Benji Weatherly, Rob Machado, and Kalani Rob) sing from above as Arthur pulls the board from the stone as if it is no heavier than a stick stuck in the sand.
The people of Shredland rejoice. The Knights bow, pledging their allegiance to the new King.
“What do we do now?” cries a peasant from the middle of the crowd (Chas, you down?).
Arthur lifts the board above his head and declares, “WE…SHALL…SHRED.”
BANG! Fireworks and a radical surfing montage. END. Fade to black. Roll the credits with some behind-the-scenes bloopers spliced throughout.
That’s a hit.
I’m trying to get Stevie to pitch for it. So far, he’s offered to supply the wetsuits and boards. I’ll keep working on him but, I mean, what does he need me for, right? He’s already figured out how to sell $500 wetsuits for $200. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had his own Merlin tied up in the back of the warehouse…because that’s MAGIC!
That’s all for now, but I’ll keep you updated on any developments with the film.
*All ideas copyrighted to CM Stassel. Don’t try it.*