Soul Surfer could more aptly be described as "soul sucker," a simpering, insipid wannabe-tearjerker that rings so false it's amazing that its story is actually true. But that's just this hopeless curmudgeon's opinion. In the screening room, to my left sat two equally vicious critics in the form of my wife and daughter. The wife expressed joy at the sight of a positive young female role model in an age where most prominent tween celebs are focused keenly on a combination of ridiculous fashion, caked-on make-up, and a disingenuous obsession with semi-talented, well-manufactured teen boy singers. The daughter walked out of the screening fascinated and enthralled -- she obviously appreciated a respite from the sexualized onslaught as well, even if she didn't consciously realize it. And so, in this example, we have the subjective quandary of film criticism laid bare in a rather simple movie. Soul Surfer is a film with a clear intention and a narrow target audience. That target audience will love it. I could barely stand it -- but maybe that says more about me than the film.
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