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Bethany Hamilton's story is inspiration on screen

By Ben Wood

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:51 a.m. HST, Apr 21, 2011


"SOUL SURFER" was much better than I expected. The story of Kauai's Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm to a shark in 2003 when she was 13, and her rough road back and becoming a professional surfer, is extremely well done. Overall, the cast is solid, with AnnaSophia Robb as Beth, Oscar-winner Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid as her parents, and local actors Sonya Balmores Chung and Cody Gomes. Polynesian Branscombe Richmond, a screen and TV vet, portrays Ben Aipa, the real-life surfboard shaper and coach. Lorraine Nicholson, Jack's daughter, plays Beth's best friend. Carrie Underwood portrays her church's youth group leader. The film has its thrills and chills. You know it won't be long before a 14-foot tiger shark is going to bite off Beth's arm and it's kinda scary every time she's in the water early on. There is some underwater filming, showing a shark's-eye view of surfers above. Her rescue and treatment are skillfully handled. Applying life-saving treatment right after the bite is a Hamilton family friend played by Kevin Sorbo. Her doctor is portrayed by Craig T. Nelson. Don't let the shark attack scare you away. It did not keep Beth out of the water, as she went right back in soon after her stitches were removed. This is not a "Jaws" movie. It's a heartwarming true story, mainly of how her determination and courage, along with strong help from family, friends and her faith, make her normal again. Warning: Beth's story may bring tears to your eyes …

GIDGET'S WAVE: Kathy"Gidget" Kohner-Zuckerman, who inspired several generations of young women to surf starting in the 1950s at Malibu and became the inspiration for the Gidget book, films and TV shows, is coming to town. At age 70, Kathy is looking forward to hitting the waves in Waikiki again, she said by phone Tuesday from her home near Malibu. She first surfed Waikiki in 1959. She recalls meeting Rabbit Kekai and is sorry she missed meeting Duke Kahanamoku on visits. She hopes to see tandem surfer Bear Woznick while here. Kathy will give a luncheon talk at Marriott's Ihilani Resort at Ko Olina June 4 at 11:30 a.m. Host is Ilima at Leihano, a soon-to-open Kapolei continuing-care retirement community developed by Kisco Senior Living. For more info and luncheon tickets, call 674-8022. Kathy is an "Ambassador of Aloha" at Duke's Restaurant in Malibu and is an honorary rep at Duke's Waikiki …

WOOD CHIPS: Stage in the Honolulu Design Center is again holding its "2 for 1" anniversary dinner nights through April 23 to mark its fourth birthday. Reservations are required as it always draws sellout crowds; call 237-5429 … The ConTempo fundraising gala is tomorrow night at the Waikiki Edition. It's chaired by Janet Weyenberg and Cherye Pierce, who has a stress fracture in her lower leg. "I'll be wearing black (pants) so that you can't see my walking cast, but I'll have a heel on the other foot," Cherye said. "Can't keep me from a great party." Way to go Cherye …

Ben Wood, who sold the Star-Bulletin on Honolulu streets in World War II, writes of people, places and things. Email him at bwood@staradvertiser.com






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