Soul Surfer (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

Soul Surfer (2011)



Critic Consensus: There's an amazing true story at the heart of Soul Surfer -- and unfortunately, it's drowned by waves of Hollywood cheese.

Movie Info

Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she was leading an idyllic life on Kauai, participating in national surf competitions with her best friend Alana (Lorraine Nicholson), when everything changed. On Halloween morning, a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams. Soul Surfer reveals Bethany's fight to recover from her ordeal and how she grappled with the question of her future. Strengthened by the love of her parents, Tom (Dennis Quaid) and Cheri (Helen Hunt), and supported by her youth group leader Sara (Carrie Underwood), Bethany refuses to give in or give up, and begins a bold return to the water. -- (C) Official Sitemore
Rating: PG (for an intense accident sequence and some thematic material)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Sports & Fitness
Directed By:
Written By: Sean McNamara, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Deborah Schwartz, Matt Allen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 2, 2011
Box Office: $43.9M
TriStar/FilmDistrict - Official Site


Annasophia Robb
as Bethany Hamilton
Dennis Quaid
as Tom Hamilton
Helen Hunt
as Cheri Hamilton
Lorraine Nicholson
as Alana Blanchard
Carrie Underwood
as Sarah Hill
Kevin Sorbo
as Holt Blanchard
Ross Thomas
as Noah Hamilton
Chris Brochu
as Timmy Hamilton
Craig T. Nelson
as Dr. Rovinsky
John Philbin
as Fuel TV Reporter #2
Tahini Bartolome
as Girl at Foodland
Bridget Tully
as Mother at Foodland
Kelly Crean
as Front Yard News Repo...
Dylan Slater
as Turtle Bay Open Anno...
Annie Gertsenberger
as Thailand Village Eld...
Sean McNamara
as Rip Curl Executive
Sean Patrick Mcnamar...
as Rip Curl Executive
Yasmin Dar
as Transworld Surf Repo...
Christie Brooke
as National Surf Fan #1
Cayla Moore
as Surfer Girl #1
Moon Otteman
as Surfer Girl #2
David Tice
as Contest Official
Susie Singer Carter
as Video Director
Irie Driscoll
as Ukulele Girl #1
Faith Fay
as Media Gnat
David Chokachi
as Paramedic #1
David Stanfield
as Nationals Announcer ...
Beau Hodge
as Nationals Announcer ...
Michael Coots
as Photoshoot Photograp...
Kaipo Guererro
as H.I. Regionals Annou...
Rocky Canon
as H.I. Regionals Annou...
Mark Kubr
as ESPN Reporter
Kim Morgan Greene
as Female Reporter
Arlene Newman-Van As...
as Cydney Blanchard
Bailey Nagy
as Surfer Olivia Jenner
Leilani Gryde
as Surfer Zoe Madsen
Kristen Steiner
as Surfer Kaila Kanahu
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Soul Surfer

Critic Reviews for Soul Surfer

All Critics (101) | Top Critics (30)

A succession of would-be rousing clichés.

Full Review… | September 21, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

A solid and inspiring story about faith and family.

Full Review… | June 30, 2013
Big Hollywood

A well-intentioned, big-hearted, wannabe-crowd-pleaser that just happens to be so incompetently made that it might be rejected by Oprah's channel.

Full Review… | June 23, 2013

The best faith-based film ever made, an uplifting, entertaining and wonderfully-acted account of surfer Bethany Hamilton's life before and after a shark bit her arm off in the waters off her favorite Hawaiian beach.

Full Review… | January 9, 2013
Tribune News Service

All that separates this from made-for-TV territory is another strong turn from gifted young lead AnnaSophia Robb.

Full Review… | April 8, 2012

A well-meaning, handsomely staged biopic of the top Hawaii-based surfing star Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark in 2003 at the age of 13...

Full Review… | September 25, 2011
Observer [UK]

Audience Reviews for Soul Surfer

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.

Albert Kim
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer


Way too shallow. The true story it's trying to tell is inspiring and exciting, but the story in the movie wasn't.

The shark attack could've been a really cool scene, but it's over in like 3 seconds. It's kind of unbelievable that a shark would just do that. The shark probably wouldn't have even stuck his head out of the water. It just seemed a little unrealistic, I'd kind of like to hear what really happened to Bethany in the water with the shark.

The movie itself is very cheesy and I wasn't really "inspired" at all. I think the credits were the best part where you actually got to see Bethany surf. The credits were my favorite, everything else needed some work. Especially the acting on Anasophia Robb (sp?). You just got your arm bitten off by a shark...let's see some real tears and emotional breakdowns. She seemed way too calm about the entire ordeal.

Japes .

Super Reviewer

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.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Soul Surfer Quotes

– Submitted by Karen C (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Karen C (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Jed G (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Nusfish K (3 years ago)

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