‘Soul Surfer’ not the typical Hollywood movie

Bethany Hamilton rises above her disability (bethanyhamilton.com/Media)

McKenzie Sixt

Waking up in the hospital with one less arm and the memory of a shark attack fresh in her mind, Bethany Hamilton’s life changing story is told in “Soul Surfer.”

“Soul Surfer” is inspired by the true story of Bethany Hamilton, the Hawaii-born surfer whose left arm was bitten off by a 14-foot tiger shark in 2003.

In the film, Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) adjusts to life with one arm and desperately tries to discover what good could possibly come from such a tragedy.

Bethany is portrayed as somewhat self-involved before the attack. She sees surfing as the main part of her life when she and her best friend Alana Blanchard sneak out to go night surfing. She later rejects the opportunity to take a mission trip to Mexico with her church in order to train for her upcoming competition.

Surfing is her life, and just as she has the opportunity to be sponsored by Rip Curl, God takes surfing away from her, or so she thinks.

After the attack, Bethany’s character realizes that everyday tasks like making breakfast, doing her hair, and getting dressed, are now constant challenges. Bethany meets the new challenges with an inspiring, determined spirit, and support from her loving parents and two brothers.

Her father, played by Dennis Quaid, and mother, played by Academy Award winner Helen Hunt, have a difficult time coping with the gravity of their daughter’s situation. Her father wishes for her to get back to normal life where as her mother sees normalcy as no longer an option.

However, no amount of love and support can quell Bethany’s thought that she might not be able to surf again. Fearing that it might be worse if she does not try to surf again, Bethany takes to the waves with only one arm.

Her natural ability comes to her and after a few test runs, Bethany is up surfing again. This inspires her to once again compete.

As competitions come and go, Bethany faces ups and downs along the way. She asks her church youth leader Sarah Hill (Carrie Underwood) for answers why God would place this burden upon her.

Underwood now adds the title of actress to her list of successes including winning American Idol in 2005, earning countless music awards with No. 1 singles, and performing at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival this weekend in Indio, California. Underwood’s character plays a crucial role in the story, as the movie focuses on faith and Bethany’s relationship with God after the attack.

Bethany is discouraged after a loss at competition and she decides to travel with Sarah to Indonesia to help the victims of the 2005 tsunami. She bonds with a lost boy and learns that it is possible for there to be positive results from immense tragedies such as the tsunami.

It depicts the challenge of trying to find the good in bad situations. Bethany returns home from her successful trip to Indonesia to discover that she has a world-wide fan base. She has become an inspiration thanks to her determination to continue surfing, despite the fact that she only has one arm.

The letters allow Bethany to see that God has used her and her story to bring hope to kids around the world who have also experienced tragic burdens. Unlike many other Hollywood movies that employ sexual humor and crude jokes, this clean, inspirational story is as refreshing as a dip in the Pacific. 

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