By EW Staff
August 08, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT


All right, Moon Doggies. It’s officially the summer of surf. Now that Disney’s animated ”Lilo & Stitch” has indoctrinated the kiddies into the thrills of sweet swells, get ready for ”Blue Crush.” In this babes-on-boards drama (due Aug. 16), Michelle Rodriguez and (above) newcomers Sanoe Lake and Kate Bosworth follow Gidget’s footprints in the sand, except with a lot more action (and a little less Lycra). So tune your ukulele, wax up your longboard, and don’t forget a dollop of white goo for your nose, as counts down the surf-shredding scenes that score a perfect hang-ten.


BIG KAHUNAS Sandra Dee, James Darren

THE STORY Before Sally Field replicated the role on TV, Dee stole America’s hearts as the stubborn surfer girl who also gets the guy in this proto-”Blue Crush.”

BEST SCENE Gidget (girl + midget) passes the boys’ surf initiation by hitching a ride with Moon Doggie (Darren), her arms spread ”Titanic”-style. When the Gidge gulps too much seawater, the Dogg brings her back to his beach shack and serenades her with the film’s theme song, ”Gidget Is the One for Me.”

QUOTABLE QUOTE ”Surfing is just out of this world. You can’t imagine the thrill of shooting the curl. It positively surpasses every living emotion I’ve ever had.”

WHY WE DIG IT Dee’s youthful effervescence positively carbonates the surf — and she looks swell in a one-piece too.


BIG KAHUNAS Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon

THE STORY A middle-aged Frankie and Annette (above, with Connie Francis) return to their old stomping grounds to teach a new generation how they beach-blanket bingo’d back in the day.

BEST SCENE Laughably corny musical numbers abound (”Jamaican Ska” anyone?). In the best of the bunch, special guest star Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) kicks it old-school, leading beachgoers in a hopped-up version of the Rivingtons’ classic ”The Bird’s The Word,” about a bird that, uh, surfs.

FAR-OUT CAMEOS A pre-”Full House” Lori Loughlin, a blowsy Connie Francis, and perennial punchline Bob ”Gilligan” Denver

WHY WE DIG IT Avalon and Funicello prove they’re in on the joke by mocking their younger selves.


BIG KAHUNAS Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey

THE STORY Three childhood surfing buddies grow up in the shadow of Vietnam, the Pacific Ocean their only moral compass.

BEST SCENE The aging trio, including a future Greatest American Hero (Katt, above), goes back to the beach just ONE MORE TIME, on the titular Wednesday, to face pre-special effects waves more intimidating than anything seen in the computer-generated swells of ”The Perfect Storm.”

FAR-OUT CAMEO Robert Englund (a.k.a. Freddy Krueger) serves as the film’s narrator.

QUOTABLE QUOTE ”Who knows where the wind comes from? Is it the breath of God? Where do the great swells come from? For what? Only now it was time… we had waited so long.”

WHY WE DIG IT While the dialogue (see quote above) and acting plunge headfirst into bad-movie clichés, the spectacula-rad visuals are the real star.


BIG KAHUNAS Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates

THE STORY A crew of bitchin’ Valley teens slack their way through high school.

BEST SCENE Jeff Spicoli (Penn, above) dreams that he is the world surfing champion. In the frighteningly fake blue-screen sequence, Spicoli works the beach, flanked by bodacious bikini babes and a microphone-wielding sportscaster (real-life newsman Stu Nahan, who played similar roles in all four ”Rocky” sequels), trashing his competition and indulging a fleeting Rolling Stones fantasy.

QUOTABLE QUOTE ”[Surfing] is like saying to a wave, ‘Hey dude, let’s party!”’

WHY WE DIG IT Writer Cameron Crowe’s ear for early-’80s teen lingo is pitch perfect. Plus, it’s nice to remember a time when Penn embraced his inner dude.


BIG KAHUNAS Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen

THE STORY In Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam morality play, Capt. Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen) skulks through the jungle on a mission to assassinate a rogue Green Beret (Brando).

BEST SCENE Along the way, Willard hitches a ride with Lt. Colonel William ”Bill” Kilgore (Duvall), whose passion for warfare is matched only by his passionate quest for the perfect wave. As his squad lays waste to a Vietcong encampment, he commands two of his charges to surf the swells created by the advancing armada. The audacious sequence (the men, on surfboards, dodging falling shells) puts into relief the insanity of war.

QUOTABLE QUOTE ”What does he know about surfing? He’s from NEW JERSEY.”

WHY WE DIG IT Duvall’s bloodthirsty Kahuna Kilgore puts the ”ire” in ”quagmire.”


BIG KAHUNAS ”Six Feet Under”’s Lauren Ambrose, ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”’s Nicholas Brendon

THE STORY Based on Charles Busch’s long-running stage play, this wicked parody splices the apple-pie innocence of ”Gidget” with the blood and guts of a ’70s slasher flick.

BEST SCENE Goody two shoes Florence (Ambrose, above with Thomas Gibson) negotiates the salty seas of double identities and less-than-subtle double entendres (lots of wiener jokes) to become Chicklet, the gang’s first girl surfer. When her beach buds enrage her, Chicklet goes psycho, unveiling tough-talking alter egos, the funniest of which is a jive-talkin’ supermarket checkout grrrrl named Tylene (”I grease up the cake pan and heat up the oven and let the batter riiiiiiiiise”).

FAR-OUT CAMEOS It’s like a roll call for TV stars on hiatus: Thomas Gibson (”Dharma & Greg”)? Here! ”90210”’s Kathleen Robertson? Present! Beth Broderick (”Sabrina the Teenage Witch”)? Yes, ma’am!

WHY WE DIG IT Ambrose does goofy as well as she does sullen on ”Six Feet Under.” Plus, let’s face it, there’s nothing better than a good wiener joke.


BIG KAHUNAS Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez, Sanoe Lake

THE STORY Based on ”Surf Girls of Maui,” an Outside magazine article by Susan Orlean (”The Orchid Thief”), the aptly named ”Crush” follows three hotel chambermaids who use their days off to tame the vicious swells of the islands — and the not-as-vicious men who pursue them.

THE SCENE Anne Marie (Bosworth, above) realizes her dream when she enters the Rip Masters surf competition. In a cheeky nod to new-millennium commercialism, she wears a Billabong T-shirt in an attempt to attract a lucrative endorsement deal with the surf-gear manufacturer. Will she get the gold or the green? Or both? Heavy, man.

FAR-OUT CAMEOS Real-life professional surfers Keala Kennelly, Kate Skarratt, Rochelle Ballard, Layne Beachley, and Megan Abubo play Anne Marie’s competition.

WHY WE DIG IT ”Crush” advances the girl-surfer sexual politics of ”Gidget” — with the same cheesecake-feminist wink.


BIG KAHUNAS Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze

THE STORY Green FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves, above, with Swayze) is sent to the beach to infiltrate the Former Presidents of the USA, a surf gang suspected of knocking over several local banks. Utah recruits surf guru Bodhi (Swayze), who teaches him that surfing is more than just a job — it’s a way of life.

BEST SCENE Local beach toughs (including Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis) open up a can of whoop-ass on Utah as he tries to invade their turf. Semi-competent martial-arts moves are enhanced by the odd flying longboard.

FAR-OUT CAMEO Gary Busey goes back to the beach as Utah’s G-man compadre.

WHY WE DIG IT Surfing as a plot device for a conventional cops-and-robbers story is surprisingly engaging. Plus, watching Reeves attempt to emote as a blissed-out Swayze proselytizes is nothing short of bad-acting movie magic.


BIG KAHUNAS Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman

THE STORY Chad Gates (Presley), just out of the Army, returns to Hawaii, his ukulele, his girlfriend (Blackman), and his favorite surfboard. In that order.

BEST SCENE Though Presley straddles a surfboard once or twice, ”Blue Hawaii” is essentially a 100-minute-long music video. Elvis kicks up some sand with pelvis-shakin’ performances of ”Rock-A-Hula Baby,” ”Ito Eats,” and ”Beach Boy Blues.” At a welcome-home gathering, the King of Chivalry even serenades his girlfriend’s grandmother with an Austrian music box that plays — great ripened pineapples! — that old Alpine love song: ”Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

FAR-OUT CAMEO As Chad’s dithering mom, Angela Lansbury (with an inexplicable Suth-in accent) clutches her pearls in shock at Chad’s not-so-shocking rock & roll demeanor.

QUOTE ”What’s YOUR name, little girl?”

WHY WE DIG IT It’s the King, dudes. A sprightly, nonfat King. On a surfboard. What’s not to love?


BIG KAHUNAS Robert August, Mike Hynson

THE STORY Bruce Brown’s seminal documentary follows fresh-faced boarders August and Hynson on a whirlwind tour of the gnarliest breakers of Africa, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Australia.

BEST SCENE After an endless trek across (and a few sand surfs down) mountainous dunes, the dynamic duo finally finds the perfect wave: small, perfectly formed, and endlessly stable. Brown follows his subjects through full 45-second rides inside the pipeline.

WHY WE DIG IT This is the one you have to see, or re-see if it’s been a while. The film’s tribute to the sea (Old King Neptune is thanked in the credits) is tempered by less reverent scenes (think high-school sex-education film): Brown’s flirty narration describes the boys ”meeting the natives” and wiping out while ogling local swimwear customs. Combining road-trip antics with a no-nonsense look at surfing, this is the surf movie that helps the layman understand the call of the curl.