Thicker Than Water is a 2000 documentary surf film directed by singer/songwriter Jack Johnson and his film school friend Chris Malloy. It shows surfing footage from different locations like... See full summary »
I'm a couch potato with a mild aversion against fashion sports like surfing, skating, and whatever it is that tattooed and pierced people while away their time with. I still saw this movie because it deals with an unusual local spot, the Eisbach in Munich, which has long been known for attracting surfers riding on a stationary wave there, which is always fun to watch when you pass by. I was wondering how they could make a worthwhile film about that bunch of "park bums" (vs. beach bums, as the spot is at the entrance of the city park), but was quickly captivated and couldn't stop the film until it was late in the night and the end credits rolled. What pulled me in was that the film didn't start as expected, with the scene on the Eisbach (literally "icy brook"), but with a group of river surfers taking off to France to explore temporary stationary waves on the flooded Rhône river. It was a very smart move of the film makers to expand the focus of the film to the larger issue of river surfing, while taking the story of a bunch of local kids who discover a new form of surfing by themselves. There is a number of small, fast streams in Bavaria, and it was a local habit to ride their fast bits standing on a board tied to a tree branch. I tried it myself but was too fat and uncoordinated to succeed. Others had more enthusiasm and found to their surprise that you didn't actually need the rope to ride the wave (something that you still can't really understand, it just happens -- it's much easier to grasp the idea of sliding down a wave on a board). The movie documents a few whacky kids who built the lives around this intriguing facts -- some as a hobby, some as a philosophy, one as a surfing pro. The movie throws no punches that this bettered each and one of them -- unlike the Californian surfer who claims that it saved him personally. Well made, fascinating and very entertaining.
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