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Jonathan Kim

Jonathan Kim

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ReThink Review: Soul Surfer -- Too Christian, or Not Christian Enough?

Posted: 04/15/11 11:19 AM ET

The movie Soul Surfer, which opened last week, is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, who went on to become a professional surfer after having her left arm torn off by a shark when she was 13. The movie cost $18 million to make and grossed $10.6 million on its opening weekend, with the best per-theater average ($5,014) of any new wide release.

Despite mediocre reviews and a predictable triumph-over-adversity biopic structure, Soul Surfer should have no problem making its money back and more.

But studio heads are no doubt keeping a close eye on Soul Surfer because of its overt Christian references, which are consistent with the religious tone of the book the film is based on as well as the religious beliefs of the devout Hamilton family.

For years, filmmakers and studios have been experimenting with ways to cater to Christian audiences without alienating non-Christian moviegoers, and Soul Surfer might be proof that a family-friendly Christian film can achieve crossover appeal on a modest budget.

But what if you're an atheist like me, who is critical of religion generally, and Christianity specifically? Is Soul Surfer simply an uplifting family film about a determined surfer girl who happens to be a Christian, or is it an attempt to indoctrinate kids through the movie theater? And, most importantly, is Soul Surfer any good?

Watch my review of Soul Surfer on What the Flick?! below.


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