SURFER, DUDE: Matthew McConaughey Smokes Weed, Fucks Bitches, Makes a Movie, and Pretends it’s Not a Documentary
To be honest, my dear readers, I go out of my way to watch shitty movies. I go above and beyond the call of duty to watch bullshit films that no one would have any interest in seeing just to let you know that, in fact, you are justified in having no interest in seeing them. It is, without a doubt, the biggest waste of time that I attempt to make seem mildly pleasant in the face of realizing how much shit I am filled with. But that doesn’t mean that I can just go around sounding like any old asshole off of Rotten Tomatoes. Fuck those guys. Most of them are just lonely assholes who want you to know why they either liked or didn’t like a movie. I, however, have a degree (almost), which allows me to academically tell you why I did or didn’t like a movie. I am a professional. You are reading the blog post of a professional. I don’t want to say that you should feel honored, but if that is how you feel, it’s probably for the best.
Being that I am a professional, I went to a library sale that sold giant bags full of whatever you wanted for $1.00. So I went about and did what I always do at books sales: I bought a shit ton of books I will never read but that will make me look cultured as fuck if anyone ever comes in to the malice-infested quarters I call a bedroom. Among other things, I bought a book about Cinema, a book about some guy who used to make cinema; a couple low-budget, Mexican films (Pan’s Labyrinth is the only thing keeping “low-budget Mexican film” from being an oxymoron), and a VHS tape of a Hebrew version of the 80’s cult classic Alf which I hope will convince Israel to let me go on Birth Right. I may not be Jewish, but I also don’t give two shits about Palestine, so I may as well be.
That paragraph wasn’t as funny as I wanted it to be, but I am too apathetic to fix it.
I also bought Surfer, Dude, starring Matthew McConaughey. It was, by far, the best dollar I have ever spent. Unless you count that dollar I donated to Haiti. I like to think that one dollar really helped them rebuild a shithole of rubble and destruction it became after the disaster back into the shithole of rubble and destruction it was before the disaster. I hate feeling like I have to donate to lesser countries.
Because of the book sale, this movie came out to cost on nickel. And dammit if it wasn’t the best nickel I have ever spent.
This is the plot: Steve Addington (McConaughey) is a surfer who likes weed and water and other stuff that your idea of an archetypal surfing character would enjoy. But he’s not just any surfer; he’s a surfer who is only in it for the fun, not the money or the fame. That has, in turn, made him really famous, but mostly poor. Then he’s offered a starring role in a reality series that would end his financial troubles but cost him his beliefs. So instead he’s all like, “nah, brah, I just want to surf.” And the audience is like, “What a crazy, cool, calm, and collected dude you must be!”
Okay, so this is a new thing I’m trying. This is going to be the part where I attempt to explore the finer, technical details of filmmaking that were utilized in the production of this film. But, just so I keep your attention, I am going to write them here as if I were a thirteen-year-old-girl who just became a freshman in high school and is dating a senior, Derrick, as she journeys through the entirety of their relationship together:
The lights were, like, cool or whatever I guess. There were some, like, harsh tones and ridged lines in scenes that were taking ‘bout corporate greed or whatever, I guess. But then, like, also, there were really warm tones with natural light and stuff in the scenes with the surfers. Oh my god, Derrick could so totes be a surfer proly. He has, like, these really strong arm muscles that he uses to pick me up sometimes in between class and that fucking bitch Molly always acts like she can’t see us but I know she’s just jealous that he took me to the winter formal, so I make out with him super hard in front of her so she can see. Anyways, the different lighting is cool but it also is a little bit heavy handed for my taste. Derrick’s hands are just right tho ;)
And, here’s the thing: I feel like a lot of other stuff happened to create a dichotomy between two contrasting points of view in the world created before us by the filmmakers. Like, oh my God, so Matthew was shirtless for almost the whole movie, which is kind of hot if you’re into older dudes. But all of his friends were super bohemian looking and so when dudes with suits came in you were like, “ew, not only are you to old, but you are also totes dressed winter suits during the summer and not even trying to hide it so its really obvs.” But it, like, is also shown by the fact that all the fancy suite guys drink alcohol but the surfer dudes smoke pot ‘cause one is like, from the earth and the other is like, maybe not I guess. You know, sometimes I think Derrick drinks too much. Like, it’s cool when he smokes ‘cause he’ll invite me and we’ll hang out and it makes me feel all cute like a Wiz Khalifa song because I know that he really loves me. ‘Cause it’s been almost three weeks at this point, so it’s pretty serious. But when he drinks I can never understand his texts and he sometimes doesn’t even text me back for hours and I get really worried that something could have happened to him. And then the next day there were pictures of him with a bunch of beer cups and Molly and when I asked him about it he said that he wouldn’t be dating me if he thought I was just going to act like a little girl all of the time, so I pretty much had to have sex with him because, like, that’s what you do when you’re in love and I want him to know that I’m as serious about this as he is.
So then, like, it’s fair to say that, I think, a lot of the stuff in the movie was, like, really beautiful. Totes beautiful. And, like, I guess that the thing is a lot of it was ‘cause they filmed stuff in nature. And nature is always beautiful. Or at least I think so, which is probably because I’m a Virgo. Grrrrrrr! But, like, even though they kind of just used the beauty that the earth had already made in a lot of their shots, there’s still a lot of technical elements that go into the proper nature shot, and they should get some credit for capturing the essence of the west coast and the ocean on film. Just like I should get some credit for putting everything I had into that relationship with Derrick. But instead the one time in the entire six weeks we dated that I say, “I don’t want to give you a blow-job today, I would much rather cuddle and watch Duck Tales” he goes and calls every girl in his phone and goes to have sex with some of them and then text me like, such hurtful things that I cry. So hurtful. And it’s not even like it’s a lot to ask to watch Duck Tales on Friday night just because it’s his friend’s birthday. He sees his friends all the time, but he never wants to come to see me unless I say that my parents are gone or something. It’s not even fair! And then he acts like he doesn’t even see me in the hallways anymore and I know he showed all his friends the pictures I texted him which he totally promised were just going to be for him, but whatever I guess ‘cause I can’t do anything about it and he was an asshole anyways!
Was that an accurate description of what it’s like to be a thirteen-year-old-girl? I’m not really sure the true essence showed through the page. Don’t they put random “grrr’s” into their sentences? I don’t know. I stopped taking to thirteen-year-old-girls when I stopped being a thirteen-year-old boy.
God dammit I hate teenagers. And adults. And children. And humanity.
I will, at this point, mention that were I ever to meet a girl of the proper age who asked if we could cuddle and watch Duck Tales, I would marry her. Also, she has to be pretty. Let’s not get idealistic here, you still have to be pretty. And not like, “I’m pretty, but in a rebellious atypical way,” but pretty in one of those objective, normative ways.
I fucking love normative things.
I’ve heard rumors that this film was produced by Matthey McConaughey for no other reason than to allow him the opportunity to make out with girls of every race. Some of you may think this is problematic in the eyes of visionary feminists and racially progressive tendencies. But have you ever seen KD Aubert? Go Google search her. And then stare at her and then about what a good idea it is to fund a movie that will make you money and allow you to make out with anyone you wanted. I would produce ten movies for a chance to make out with KD Aubert. I would produce ten shitty movies to make out with her. would produce ten David Lynch movies, causing the entire world to suffer through long winded, masturbatory expressions of artistic vision for the sake of making out with her.
Despite being completely worth $0.05, this film did have its problems.
The first mistake: You do not put Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in the same movie. Who the fuck is who? Are they talking to themselves? Do they realize how similar they look? Why is one a sex symbol and the other forced to be in movies like Kingpin? What kind of movie would Face/Off have been if it starred both of them?
The film also runs into a few problems in terms of representation and demographic. Because of the weed culture that surrounds surf culture, it’s no doubt fair that it be represented in a film about surfers. But, as with any form of intoxication, it’s difficult to properly capture what it’s like to use drugs without creating stereotypes that isolate any audience that has actually done drugs (which is anyone in your audience worth keeping around). Surfer, Dude does a decent job of representing heavy weed smoking (general confusion, apathy, and absolute paranoia at the site of a cop), and it sacrifices elements of realism for comic relief, which is a necessary evil; but it still has its problematic elements. Additionally, there are so many gratuitous breasts. I don’t even know what to do with that. I enjoy breasts, I like to look at breasts; when breasts are present, my mind is eased. But it just makes no fucking sense. Why are there just random titties everywhere for scenes at a time? I get that the film is trying to cement itself in the hearts of the teenaged-boy demographic that they are going for, but at a certain point, it’s bullshit. It’s one thing to say sex sells and include attractive actors—whether male or female—in a film. And it’s one thing to display sexual elements of the human anatomy for the sake of representing character or progressing he film (Fight Club, for example, shows giant throbbing cock multiple times throughout the film. And as much as I’m hesitant to support giant, throbbing cock in my David Fincher films, at least the cock here applies towards characterization and thematic context). But titties for the sake of titties is bullshit. If you want to turn me on a little bit during a movie, fine, touch my heart with an emotional sex scene If you want to make me stare at breasts in the middle of a story arch, go fuck yourself. I’m already probably loading London Keyes videos in at least three of my safari tabs. Get your shit together.
Dammit, Blow Up, you ruined everything with your fucking biddies and your fucking tits and your fucking Italian, pseudo-neo-realism, European sex-crazed nonsense!
(If that reference resonated with you and you want to watch Duck Tales and you want to cuddle and you are normatively attractive, please find a way to contact me. I love you. I have always loved you, I just didn’t know until right now).
The largest problem came about with the inclusion of an utterly superfluous love story— Alexie Gilmore, whose performance in this film can be described as little less than perfectly acceptable.
While the eventual love bond is tweaked into summing the film up in a tidy little bundle, it’s fucking stupid. It just randomly gets thrown in there. It was clearly placed in the film for no other reason than that it was expected to be in the film. There was no fire or passion behind it, nor an overarching story of romance. It was just there to complete the general formula of what is needed in a movie: conflict + character + resolution + boy falls in love with girl = movie. It’s like when you’re having sex with a girl and you start to pull her hair. You know she doesn’t like it, and you’re not really all that into it, but you do it anyways because that’s how all the people on the internet have sex, so maybe you might as well. And, at the end of it all, you probably just should have sit back and let the sex run its course without interfering with over popularized ideas of what it should be. After all, it only cost $0.05.
Are we picking up the mild metaphor that’s been chucked into a pile of smut? Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Are we on the same page?
The last little problems were that the Australian dude was characterized by always wearing shirts for Fosters Beer—which my roommate assures me no Australians actually drink—and that the introduction to the film was devastatingly expositional. It was so much exposition that it hurt me to see.
Anyways, the films ends and everyone is financially stable and high and surfing and there are some Willie Nelson cameos and a heard of goats and some general merriness. It’s a feel-good, throw away film that you may pop in every once in a while just to look at pretty shit with an easy plot to follow.
That’s a polite way of saying that’s this movie is for stoners. If it looks pretty and it requires no thought process, it is a weed movie. Do you know how weird, complex, artsy films get when you’re high? I tried watching Being John Malkovich high the first time I saw it, and it just ended with me crying.
I wouldn’t say this is the kind of movie you go out of your way to see, but if given the chance to pick up a cheap copy I’d say it’d be worth it for no other reason than KD Aubert. Although Googling her would be just as good. Or Mr. Skinning her. Is that the verb form of looking someone up on Mr. Skin? It sounds oddly violent for such a pleasant experience.
Curtis Cook is a senior at Oberlin College who enjoys problematic language, White women, and whiskey.