Two Movies Enter, One Movie Leaves

Well, there’s this movie from the mid-eighties. It’s about a kid from one of those states connected by the Hoover Dam, I forget which. Anyway, this kid has become good at a watersport, really good, but he’s cocky. He’s a big fish in a small pond but he thinks he might be a big whale in a small.. ocean? Or whatever. So he travels to an exotic land, where the locals speak a strange lingo and have odd habits. He tries to wow them with his watersport skillz. But the kid doesn’t know the rules, and the natives tell him in no uncertain terms that he needs to go back to where he came from. Will he learn to play the game and become accepted by the locals? Can he win the big contest and get the girl? Will there be a training montage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU9Uwhjlog8

…with an awesome synth pop soundtrack? (Of course there will be, that one was free).

Oxford Blues (1984)
Rob Lowe is Nick De Angelo, a former member of the University of Nevada (UNLV?) sculling team, who quit school because he just couldn’t be kept down by The Man, or something. So now he’s moved up to the high life, parking cars at the Dunes casino in Las Vegas. He’s developed a NOT AT ALL stalkerish obsession with a British blueblood named Lady Victoria, whose exploits he follows in People magazine and he is not a creepy stalker so stop saying that. Lady Victoria will be attending Oxford, so Nick gets accepted at Oxford the old fashioned way, by paying a computer hacker to put him on the top of the waiting list. Now he has to pay the hacker $1500 and score some tuition money. So he beds down a sexy divorcee who has pulled up at the Dunes in a snazzy car, and she stakes him to a game of craps in which he wins 14,000 dollars. (Important note: when playing craps with a sexy divorcee, never shout “Come on partner, we need aces, roll the aces!” If you have to make a sucker bet like craps two, at least call for ‘snake-eyes’ so the dealers don’t laugh at you.)

Nick gets to Oxford, engages in some hijinx, and has a meet-cute with Ally Sheedy, who is also in this movie because it’s the eighties. Stealing an unattended boat, Nick rows in A Big Race to impress the locals, including Lady Victoria (Amanda Pays). His theft has the opposite effect on some of the British students, who call him things like “that little shit” and “that arrogant shit” and “that arrogant little shit.” At this point the movie settles into an odd rhythm of Nick variously wowing the natives and pissing them off. One moment he is on the team – hooray! and they are all pouring champagne on his head, and the next moment he is thrown off the team and told to go home, Yank. After five or six of these, we finally get to The Big Race, where SPOILER ALERT Nick wins all the monies and falls into the arms of the girl he was meant to be with all along (hint: ALLY SHEEDY).

Important lingo learned by Nick:
“Sent down”
“Sconce” (v.)
“Don”

North Shore (1987)
Matt Adler is Rick Kane, the swimming pool surfing champion of Arizona. After winning The Big Contest, Rick takes his $500 prize money to the surfer holy land of Hawaii, where presumably he can live on that amount of money for the entire surfing season. But when he arrives poor Rick is chased out of a stripper bar, picked up by some Australians, and then chased by machete wielding natives. Rick’s attempt to impress the Australians with his mad skillz is a failure, because even though Rick surfs like crazy in the wave tank contraption they use in Arizona, he has never been in the ocean before. He breaks his surfboard, the natives steal all his stuff, and things are looking pretty bad until he meets Turtle, who teaches him the local lingo, and introduces him to Chandler, the surf guru that will take him from a hapless “kook” to a skillful “soul surfer.” Along the way Rick falls in love with Kiani (Nia Peeples) a native Hawaiian. The other natives are appalled, and tell him “Go back to where you came from, haole.”

Eventually things work themselves out, and in spite of the fact that Rick already got the girl and proved that he is no “kook,” there is a Big Contest, because this is a surf movie after all. If you have seen Soul Surfer (2011), then you know how the contest ends. SPOILER ALERT – He loses the contest, but he is the real winner, because Important Moral Lesson, or something.

Important lingo learned by Rick:
“Haole”
“Barney”
“Kook”

And the decision:
North Shore wins! Mostly because I preferred Matt Adler’s wide-eyed naivete to Rob Lowe’s cockiness. Similarly, North Shore feels like an occasionally amateurish labor of love by true believers, and Oxford Blues just seems like standard Hollywood product. North Shore’s surfing scenes are classics of the genre while OB’s rowing scenes are just sort of silly. So congratulations North Shore, you will now become a cult movie for generations of soul surfers!

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