EmptyOpens: Friday, Sept. 12 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Matthew McConaughey and his pals-including co-stars Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson-probably had a blast making "Surfer, Dude." But they forgot to provide an equally good time for the audience. This lackluster vanity production will slip quickly in and out of theaters but may attract a minor cult following on DVD.
Perpetually stoned surfing legend Steve Addington (McConaughey) returns to Malibu from a round-the-world odyssey. His home turf has changed in his absence. New sponsor Eddie Zarno (Jeffrey Nordling) wants Addington to participate in high-tech virtual reality surfing videos, but Addington smells exploitation and tries to resist. At the same time, an arrogant Puerto Rican surfer (amusingly played by Ramon Rodriguez) threatens Addington's hegemony, and Steve puts the moves on the elegant Danni (Alexie Gilmore), who works for Zarno's company. The undernourished story is merely the pretext for a lot of stoner gags and hearty party scenes with bare-breasted starlets.
Unfortunately for surfing fans, the film does not provide much spectacular photography to tickle the senses. This is because the plot turns on an uncharacteristically tranquil California summer, as Addington waits for waves that never arrive. Without visual distractions, the picture must rely on the script by director S.R. Bindler, George Mays, Mark Gustawes, and Cory Van Dyke, and it is bereft of wit or cogent characterization. For example, while Danni is initially wary of Addington's charms, we never understand what motivates her to hop into bed with him on an excursion to Baja.
Perhaps McConaughey's star power is meant to gloss over this plot lapse, and he walks through the movie-mainly in the same pair of black-and-white swim trunks and no shirt-amiably enough. Gilmore is attractive, while Harrelson, Nelson, and Scott Glenn do what they can with poorly written roles. Technical credits are passable. Someone else's vacation photos are never much fun to watch, and this beach party is a drag for onlookers.
Production: Berk/Lane Entertainment, J.K. Livin Productions, Playtone.
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Alexie Gilmore, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Nordling, Ramon Rodriguez, Willie Nelson, Scott Glenn.
Director: S. R. Bindler.
Screenwriters: George Mays, Mark Gustawes, S. R. Bindler, Cory Van Dyke.
Producers: Matthew McConaughey, Gus Gustawes, Mark Gustawes.
Executive producers: Jason Berk, Matt Lane, James W. Skotchdopole, Dennis Weiss.
Director of photography: Elliot Davis.
Production designer: T.K. Kirkpatrick.
Music: Xavier Rudd, Blake Neely.
Costume designer: Jonny Pray.
Editor: Nancy Richardson.
Rated R, 85 minutes.