Ready for waves, shady land developers and making decisions that you’re probably too young to make? Then look no further than Rip Girls!
Aired: April 22, 2000
Directed by Joyce Chopra
Starring Camilla Belle
Run time: 1h 27m
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age
Synopsis: A 13-year-old girl discovers she’s inherited a large portion of land on her native homeland of Hawaii; a place she hasn’t visited since she was a child.
Following in the footsteps of Johnny Tsunami, this is the second DCOM that follows the trials and tribulations of a protagonist native to the island of Hawaii. However, unlike Johnny who had been surfing since he was a child, Sydney has never surfed a day in her life. Honestly, I would much rather try surfing than snowboarding. Although, I would be afraid of possibly encountering a shark and getting a limb bitten off. But that’s just me.
MAJOR PLOT POINTS:
After traveling back to her native homeland of Hawaii for the first time since she was a child, 13-year-old Sydney Miller learns that she’s inherited a large portion of land. Despite her quick decision to sell to a big-wig land developer, Sydney soon discovers a deeper appreciation for her island home. And, of course, learns to surf.
Q: Whose idea was it to have voiceovers in so many movies?
A: An idiot. That’s who. Instead of Sydney telling us that she’s hasn’t been to Hawaii since she was born, you can literally use a throw away line to another character and be like “I haven’t been here since I was a kid…”. Thankfully it was only for a few minutes at the beginning of the film.
Q: Could Sydney’s dad be more uptight?
A: Sydney literally starts speaking in riddles while she’s trying to tell him the truth about going surfing. Something that he explicitly told her not to do.
Q: You know how when you’re young and you find a cool, yet spooky, abandoned house and decide to go explore it?
A: Yeah, that’s called breaking and entering.
Despite Camilla Belle’s young age in this film, this isn’t her first acting credit and she has quite the long list of filmography. She played a young Sally in Practical Magic, received a call coming from inside the house in the remake of When a Stranger Calls, and fought a shadowy government sect hunting people with special abilities alongside the future Captain America in Push.
Fun fact: this movie wasn’t actually filmed in Hawaii, but in Queensland, Australia.
This film has an unexpected eerie and supernatural tone to it. Everything that happens to Sydney is almost like a stroke of luck or fate. Like when she finds her mother’s picture or her mother’s old surf board. And the way in which her dad talks, it’s as if he’s hiding something at every turn. Like what happened to Sydney’s mother and why he decided to take Sydney away from Hawaii. It’s not as light and bright a film as one might think.
Although Sydney originally agrees to sell the land on the plantation, I have to admit that I was impressed by her initial apprehension when she saw the plans from the land developers. Not many kids are concerned about preserving history and keeping the beach open to everyone and not just paying hotel guests.
Sydney’s relationship with her dad becomes more and more strained the longer they’re on the island. Her dad never mentions Sydney’s mother and Sydney’s stepmom feels like she’s competing with a ghost. It’s called communication, bro.
Overall, this movie is super sweet and feels incredibly nostalgic without feeling childish. It’s one of the few films that truly reminds me of what it was like to be a kid. Discovering new things for the first time, making new friends and even having a first crush.
It’s a film all about facing your fears and making decisions for yourself. Discovering that you have power to make things happen and not just sitting idly by and letting things happen. Remember, being scared is half the fun. “Your heart pounding so fast that all you want to do is quit and then doing it anyway.”
Up next: Miracle in Lane 2!