Regardless of how you think about surfing as a pastime or a sport, you have to recognize the legendary Laird Hamilton, who never found a ginormous wave he didn't love, as a world-class dude. Rory Kennedy's affectionate biography "Take Every Wave" gives us abundant commentary on his life and achievements, just a small slice of that coming from the man himself. That's partly because he's not much into the fame thing, mostly because he expresses himself, like he understands the world, through his body.
The film is a great beginner's guide to the Hamilton story, from the early years of struggle (raised in Hawaii in poverty by a single mom and later a foster dad, smacked around by classmates for being the only white kid in school, dropping out of 11th grade because he was too competitive to remain) up to the era of triumph (finding refuge in the water, aggressively mounting tsunami-level waves, getting international media attention, discovering true love with pro volleyball star Gabrielle Reece, designing wicked new hydrofoil boards). Along the way there are stories from pals who joined him to dive off cliffs, got stranded with him in pounding surf on knife-sharp rock shelves and watched him become the only person on record to surf a monster wave as tall as a seven-story building.
With a juicy mix of old home movies, archival footage and stunning new images shot for this film, "Take Every Wave" is a fan letter to a bro who, despite moments of ego and arrogance, followed his passion as far as it could take him. Which was very far indeed. At 53, despite a repeatedly broken foot, bad back and arthritic hip, he makes it look like his next half-century will be even cooler.