Pleasant Surf: Our Review of ‘Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 20, 2017
Pleasant Surf: Our Review of ‘Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton’

Sometimes life is just about catching that right wave…

While Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is a nice piece of history and insight into the world of surfing, aside from some of the stunning ocean photography it plays out a little too perfunctory to be anything truly memorable for anyone either then those who want to find some bliss out on the water with that perfect wave.

Much admired by the public, though often disdained or ignored by the surf industry itself, Laird Hamilton is a unique sports icon in the mold of a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.  But on the other side of that equation he’s an athlete who has refused to compete professionally yet has dominated big wave surfing as no other figure in history has ever done. Laird’s biographical story is told against the backdrop of a winter surf season on Kauai, where El Niño storm systems threaten to bring the biggest surf in decades. With its blend of archival footage, with contemporary moments shot anywhere you can catch a righteous tube, this is intimate and compelling portrait of a superstar athlete at the top of his game is told by the friends, family, contemporaries and even a few detractors who know him best along with Laird himself as he strips bear the price of perfection in a sport he loves so very much.

Granted it’s not exactly a heavy subject but not all docs need to be that way and Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is a pleasant look into the life of an underappreciated pop culture icon but unless you live to spend your life on the water, you’ll forget about this one pretty soon after you’ve left the theatre.

Coming off of the poignant and borderline transcendent Last Days In Vietnam it’s easy to forgive director Rory Kennedy for wanting to work on a lighter project.  It’s incredibly well shot and told in a very effective fashion and while Laird makes for a somewhat interesting subject, Kennedy had a lot of material to get through and it times feels rushed going against the purest spirit of surfing and finding those moments of Zen out on the waves.  However it’s ironic that this where the film also kind of works and catches the essence of its subject since Laird prides himself on being an innovator and never sitting still in his chosen sport.  Instead he actively works at evolving it and finding that perfect way to surf the waves.

Ultimately, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is a pleasant diversion of a documentary and will work as a cheap vacation for anyone who wants to go somewhere sunny filled with surf and sand, but it won’t inspire you to pick up a board and head out there either.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.