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Cutback (2010)

PG | | Drama | 5 April 2011 (USA)
1:27 | Trailer
High School senior Luke Harris (Justin Schwan) dreams of just one thing... pro surfing. With his best friend Casey (Angel Cruz) at his side, they have two goals: surf and party! But Luke's ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Luke Harris
Emily Dawson
Janet Harris
David Harris
Angel Cruz ...
Casey Sanchez
Jessie Nickson ...
Jessica Lopez
Matt McCoy
Danny Smith ...
Pastor Shane
Matt Beacham ...
Nat Shackelford
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abby Evans ...
Mallory Gegan ...
Counter Girl
Skyler Heimer ...
Carl Wilson
Ed V. Morgan ...
Pastor Ed
George Thai ...


High School senior Luke Harris (Justin Schwan) dreams of just one thing... pro surfing. With his best friend Casey (Angel Cruz) at his side, they have two goals: surf and party! But Luke's Mom (Raquel Gardner) and especially Dad (Greg Carlson) have other ideas: pick a college and grow up! When Luke learns that a spot is opening up on the local surf team, he see's his big chance to prove to his parents that he can make it as a surfer and avoid being shipped off to school. Only two things stand in Luke's way: new-surfer-in-town Matt (Andy Shephard) who has his own eyes set on the surf team opening, and his Dad, who insists he give up his surfing dreams and get an education. When a devastating tragedy strikes, Luke is forced to take a hard look at his life and with the help of beautiful "church-girl" Emily (Kelsey Sanders) and his Youth Pastor (Danny Smith), he learns that there's much more to life than riding waves. Written by Anonymous

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some teen drinking, thematic elements and an accident scene.


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5 April 2011 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

An "inspirational film" that's actually inspiring
22 August 2013 | by (Ohio/PA border) – See all my reviews

I bought "Cutback" on DVD blindly yesterday thinking it was a surfing drama/sports flick akin to, say, 2002's "Blue Crush." It is and it isn't. The surfing and sports competition take a serious backseat to the inspirational coming-of-age drama.

Released in 2010, "Cutback" tells the story of teenager Luke Harris (Justin Schwan) and his parents (Greg Carlson & Raquel Gardner). The mother's a woman of faith, but the father and son aren't. There are signs of marital problems, but this is a very solid family. Luke's goofy best friend, Casey, isn't so fortunate (Angel Cruz). Luke's a natural at surfing and wants to pursue it, but his dad insists he goes to college. Meanwhile, a beautiful redhead catches his eye (Emily played by Kelsey Sanders) and everything seems to be bliss, and then...

This is a low-budget, straight-to-video film and shows some of the limitations thereof, like questionable acting by some of the peripheral characters (e.g. Casey and Luke's boss), but it's Grade A at heart. Seriously, this is a quality coming-of-age drama. Despite some of the questionable acting, I was able to buy into the characters and their story. The people became "real" to me because they ring true. Excellent job by the director, writers and cast in this regard.

What I especially liked was the overtness of things pertaining to God, like prayer and such. Mainline films (whether theatrical or TV) have to be "politically correct" in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Anything having to do with God is typically watered down, (but not always, see the pull-no-punches "Black Death," as an example). Thankfully, independent films aren't as constrained in this respect and can therefore address "touchy areas" like God and faith.

"Cutback" boldly shows the awful truth along with the gospel truth. Mistakes happen, anger is flared, divorce is threatened, tragedy strikes and intense doubts are vented. But amidst all this is the nobility of the central characters, which makes you root for them. Luke and Casey are bosom buddies, and it shows; there's a palpable attraction between Luke and Emily; Luke's dad is a weary cop who's understandably sick of being taken for granted; and his mother's a precious cornerstone of faith, but not without her own failings.

The film is also salted with inspirational scenes that are nigh life-changing. There's a potent discussion on integrity at a youth group that forces the viewer to check their own integrity; there's a marital counseling session that's similarly effective; there's a visceral response to tragedy and the equally visceral counter, albeit wisely subdued.

I'll be honest with you, this is one of the best coming-of-age dramas I've ever seen. It's inspirational, even enlightening, not to mention heart-warming and moving. The only reasons I don't rate it higher than I do is because it has the limitations of a low-budget, independent film, like dubious acting with the secondary characters, but most of the main characters are excellent or very good. Plus I don't want to mislead potential viewers into thinking this is some polished, big film. It's not; it's small, but it's Goliath at heart.

Most importantly, "Cutback" boldly addresses the most important issues of life -- ambition, compromise, folly, defeat, resolve, forgiveness, God, faith, love, loyalty, hope, death, grief and life.

All films are contrived in the sense that they involve actors performing from a written script. The secret of successful films is that they pull it off without seeming contrived; that is, it must come across as real life. Too many independent inspirational films aren't able to do this and, consequently, they're painfully awkward at times. "Cutback" soars above this, triumphantly.

The film was shot in S. California and is lean & mean at 87 minutes.


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