Box art for Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer

children & family, drama, sports


Based on book: "Soul Surfer: A true story of faith, family and fighting to get back on the board"; and life story of Bethany Hamilton.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    46%
  • Audience Score
    77%

common sense

ON for kids age 10
Consumerism
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
Language
1 out of 5
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
5 out of 5
Sex
1 out of 5
Violence
3 out of 5

Earnest sports biopic tugs at heart despite cliches.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this inspiring true story about a promising young surfer who was attacked by a shark could give tween and teen viewers lots to think about -- from trying to figure out their purpose in life (even at a young age) to trying to come to terms with adversity. With the exception of the attack itself -- which, although quick, unfolds in a gory, violent manner -- the movie is squeaky clean, with no iffy language, sex, or drinking/drugs content. And the main character is an extremely positive role model, responding to tragedy with grace and kindness instead of bitterness.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about facing life's challenges. Do you think you'd be able to respond to a life-changing tragedy the way that the main character does? How do you think she manages it?
  • What does Bethany learn from her experience, and what does she teach others?
  • The movie is based on a true story. Do you think that means that everything happened exactly the way it's shown here? Why might filmmakers change some facts while making a movie?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    46%
    reviews counted: 20
    see all Soul Surfer reviews
  • Audience

    77%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: As a portrait of a spirited, resilient athlete, the movie succeeds best, unafraid to face its heroine's daunting challenges directly.

- Andy Webster, New York Times, Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rotten: Soul Surfer seems simply too sugar-coated to be true.

- Christine Champ, Film.com, Friday, May 6, 2011

Rotten: Bethany's determination and faith are remarkable. It's too bad this movie made a brave young woman's life appear like an unremarkable soap opera.

- Claudia Puig, USA Today, Thursday, April 7, 2011

Audience Reviews

2 stars

I like how the RottenTomatoes consensus put it: "There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese." Yup, with material like this, it's hard to go wrong, but boy, it was freaking cheesy. I found myself cringing a lot at the laughably and poorly written dialogue, the mediocre acting (Sorry Carrie Underwood, you're a devout Christian and an EXCELLENT musician, which is all very inspiring, but acting ain't your thing), and the poor execution in storytelling. "What's up, Disney Channel?" As a Christian, I find myself cringing at the attempt to make an inspiring Christian-themed movie, but surprisingly, "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie, wasn't THAT bad compared to the many other Christian movies. Let me tell you, there are some horrifyingly, awful Christian movies out there. You'll be pleasantly welcomed by the B-movie feel "Soul Surfer" has. It's not preachy or pretentious; deep down, there's a lot of purity and heart injected into this movie. There's a particular scene involving the Bethany, the main protagonist, that effectively agitates the audience's emotions, all without a word being said. Even the message was good-hearted, pure, and a relief, especially among a movie industry filled with dark and unsettling themes. Surprisingly, "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie, manages to catch a couple of waves, but that's where it ends. The movie suffers from horrible pacing issues, mainly due to the fact that the incident that occurs, and the result afterwards are the only solid material "Soul Surfer" has for its narrative. The spaces in between are nothing more than fillers, and what dull fillers they are. The editing is sporadically all over the place, and the dialogue makes me shudder. Phew, this is one big cheeseball. Nevertheless, it's a good movie for children and is a surprisingly effective Christian-themed film -- just don't take your film critique crew to watch this. There IS an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese... to the max.

- fb1463751009, Tuesday, May 1, 2012

4 stars

What an incredible true story of Hawaiian female champion surfer, Brittany Hamilton (Anna SophiaRobb) has the perfect-est life with the perfect-est family until, one day, the CGI-est shark comes along and chomps off her arm, that shocked me, while she's hanging 10. Set in Hawaii, this is one of the most beautiful - and kid-friendly - films to feature dismemberment. It's okay because Brittany's misfortune will lead her down a path that teaches her the power of love. All of the soul in Soul Surfer is like guzzling maple syrup while someone tries to make you cry. Finely calibrated to the tween market, this story of triumph over adversity rides on an upbeat soundtrack and plenty of surf action. Director Sean McNamara speeds along/above/behind the waves with frenetic vigour, but also captures the sport's meditative nature.

- deano, Tuesday, November 8, 2011

4 stars

When you come back from a loss, beat the odds, and never say never, you find a champion. Excellent film! Annasophia Robb did an amazing job. The movie was directed fairly well and all the actors were very good at their roles, however i thought the ending was a twist and wasn't easily expected because of how the movie was going. I think this movie is great for emotional people. like i said it brings you into the story and the ending credits are pretty cool also. I think most people will enjoy watching it but only emotional people could really connect to it. Highly recommended! 'Soul Surfer' is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through her sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast, including AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt, with Carrie Underwood in her film debut, and Dennis Quaid. In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany's feisty determination and steadfast beliefs spur her toward an adventurous comeback that gives her the grit to turn her loss into a gift for others.

- MANUGINO, Tuesday, July 19, 2011