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Soul Surfer Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The cross and the surfboard Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

As inspiring as expected Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The inspiring story of surfer and shark attack victim Bethany Hamilton deserves a better dramatization.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    A true story of courage, determination and guts that deserves a more exciting approach.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Soul Surfer, while formulaic in design, is an authentic and heartfelt movie.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Soul Surfer reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Earnest sports biopic tugs at heart despite cliches.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this inspiring true story about a promising young surfer who was attacked by a shark could give tween and teen viewers lots to think about -- from trying to figure out their purpose in life (even at a young age) to trying to come to terms with adversity. With the exception of the attack itself -- which, although quick, unfolds in a gory, violent manner -- the movie is squeaky clean, with no iffy language, sex, or drinking/drugs content. And the main character is an extremely positive role model, responding to tragedy with grace and kindness instead of bitterness.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about facing life’s challenges. Do you think you'd be able to respond to a life-changing tragedy the way that the main character does? How do you think she manages it?
  • What does Bethany learn from her experience, and what does she teach others?
  • The movie is based on a true story. Do you think that means that everything happened exactly the way it's shown here? Why might filmmakers change some facts while making a movie?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: The movie's strongly positive message is that you can get over the worst of tragedies with perspective, self-determination, and the support of friends and family.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: Bethany is a very positive role model, choosing to respond to enormous loss and tragedy with grace and kindness to both herself and others. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn't have, she focuses instead on what to give to others.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A shark attacks a young surfer. It happens quickly but ferociously, with lots of blood and some gore.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Flirting, girls in bikinis.

  • language false1

    Language: "Jerk" and "oh my God."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Brand names and logos for surfing sponsors, including Rip Curl and Red Bull. Also Spam (the food, not the junk email).

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue