Local Boys (2002) / Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for mature themes, drug content, language and sensuality
Running Time: 102 min.
Cast: Eric Christian Olsen, Jeremy Sumpter, Mark Harmon, Stacy Edwards, Chaka Forman, Shelby Fenner, Giusseppe Andrews, Travis Aaron, Lukas Behnken
Director: Ron Moler
Screenplay: Norman Douglas Bradley, Thomas Matthew Stewart, Keoni Waxman
This will probably only really appeal to surfboard enthusiasts, who will enjoy seeing their favorite pastime once again in another romanticized surf drama. However, unlike many other films of similar ilk, Local Boys is too pat and predictable to ever keep your interest, while even those looking for good surfing action will be disappointed that it falls far short there too.
Southern California is one of the main localities for the serious surfer, and that's where most of the action of Local Boys takes place. Eric Christian Olsen (Dumb and Dumberer, The Hot Chick) plays Randy, who goes surfing whenever he can with his surf buddies, all of whom are enjoying their last summer before going to college or finding a job. Also frequently tagging along is Randy's younger brother Skeet (Sumpter, Frailty), who has just gotten a new surfboard for his birthday and is ready to ride the waves like the big boys. However, big bro isn't too keen on teaching his sibling the finer points, and along comes burnt out ex-pro surfer Jim (Harmon, Freaky Friday), who immediately bonds with the boy, showing him all of the dos and don'ts of the wave riders. Relationships become strained as Jim meets the boys mother and chemistry is evident, but the boys just lost their father a year ago, and Randy thinks no one else will measure up. Meanwhile, Jim must confront his own demons, as his wounds still haven't healed from the loss of his own family.
Local Boys isn't totally unlikable, as it has an amiable nature, and doesn't try to hard to be more than it is, a family film revolving around surfers. However, it also never really stands out on its own, as you've seen this kind of angst-filled melodrama played out in similar fashion countless times in a variety of settings already. Obviously, with a family that needs a husband and father, while a man needs a wife and kids, it's pretty easy to see where the film is headed toward the final conclusion. It's a shame it also couldn't be more interesting along the way as well.
The acting is very hit and miss, With the main stars, Olsen and Sumpter, having a rough go of it with some of the more key emotional scenes, but it's hard to be overly critical since some of the trite dialogue doesn't give them much to work with. Of all of the actors, the veteran Harmon probably gives the only performance that feels about right, although it's obvious that a double was used for all of his surfing scenes.
With drama this bland, Local Boys looks and feels like one of those network television movies of the week than a legitimate endeavor for a motion picture release. If it at least had some well-shot surfing footage, perhaps there might be some reason to sit through the stilted writing and amateurish acting, but alas, it's as limp as the rest. If Blue Crush made you think surf flicks were "Bitchin'!'", Local Boys will almost certainly have you thinking, "Bummer!"
© 2003 Vince Leo