Surfwise (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes

Surfwise (2007)

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Critic Consensus: An intriguing account of a unique family.

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Movie Info

"Surfwise" follows the odyssey of 85-year-old, legendary surfer Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, his wife Juliette, and their nine children--all of whom were home-schooled on the beaches of Southern California, Hawaii, Mexico and Israel. They surfed every day of their lives and were forced to adhere to a strict diet and lifestyle by their passionate and demanding, health-conscious father. What happens to eight brothers and a sister that are raised under such extraordinary circumstances? "Surfwise" is the story of a man who pursued his dreams and dragged his family along for the wild ride.

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Critic Reviews for Surfwise

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (17)

The fallout decades later provides the drama in this documentary by Doug Pray, who lets his eccentric octogenarian subject off a little too easy.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A provocative documentary about a man who dropped out to follow a dream that gradually evolved into something not unlike a nightmare.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Not just the story of one man's obsessive quest to find harmony on a plank of wood, Surfwise offers a cautionary tale about parenting, homeschooling (camper-schooling, actually), sibling rivalries and family sacrifice.

Full Review… | June 26, 2008
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The film's director, Doug Pray, has been able to track down each and every Paskowitz child, and he weaves their memories together with old home movies, still photos and news clippings to create an evocative portrait of their lives.

Full Review… | June 20, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A riveting documentary that focuses more on weird family dynamics than big waves.

Full Review… | June 19, 2008
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Some documentarians think like essayists, propagandists, abstract painters, or magazine reporters. Doug Pray approaches his documentaries as though he's writing books.

June 19, 2008
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Surfwise

½

After watching Surfwise; I don't know what to think of "Doc" and the way he raised his children. All I know is that I wouldn't have wanted to grow up that way. Doc seems like he had the best intentions, but still have this feeling of hate towards the way he chose to bring up his children. I don't understand how he can think he did the right thing. He closed them off to the world and prevented them from getting an education. He wants us to believe that they got the education they needed and that public education is not important. I liked listening to his kids talk about their experiences and how it affected them, but I hated having to listen to Doc speak his weird views on life. Even with how I feel about Doc's choices and beliefs; I still don't think he is a horrible father. He was with his kids, and he obviously loved them. He just didn't allow them the basic freedoms most kids have. He kids called him a dictator. Surfwise is a well-made and entertaining documentary about a "different" family and the ways it affected all of them.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

A sad film chronicling the unconventional lifestyle of one of surfing's leading families. Sad, because although their childhood was an idyllic bohemian dream that most kids would die for, none of the Paskowitz kids were prepared for life. Still, it was interesting to hear each of them talk about the way they lived, and to hear Doc Paskowitz, a Stanford educated doctor, talk about his philosophy and explain why he raised his family as he did. Interspersed with the interviews, was what appeared to be home-movie footage and newspaper clippings of the family as they lived the adventure of raising nine children as nomads and traveling the continent in a 24-foot motor home.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Surfwise" is an engaging, if not substantive, documentary about Dorian ' Doc' Paskowitz who graduated from Stanford University with a medical degree but fearing the good life, dropped out and took up surfing. After introducing surfing to Israel and failing to enlist in the country's paratroopers, he proceeded to get married for the second time to Jeanette. Together, they would eventually have nine children who were all raised in a 24 foot camper, traveling wherever his whims took them while basically focusing on surfing. These cramped conditions forced them to maintain a certain level of hygiene and the lack of privacy made the parents' energetic sex life a bit disturbing to everyone else. As hard as life was due to being perpetually broke, nobody starved. They eventually settled down to a degree with the establishment of a surfing camp and the children became expert surfers, winning their share of trophies.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]In this tale of man versus society, all good things must come to an end. And whereas I admire Dorian for finding another path, it is not for everyone which is the conclusion his kids came to as they became adults. However, his idea of an education did not prepare them for life in a structured world, most settling for life in music or on the waves. No matter how tyrannical or possibly abusive Dorian was, all nine of his children participate in the documentary but it has been ten years since they have all been together in the same place.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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