Surfwise tries to separate itself from the fray of political documentaries by not taking itself too seriously. An early scene introduces Dorian Paskowitz, the 85-year-old patriarch of his surfer family clan, by watching him completely disrobe for an early-morning bike ride. It’s a joke, but it’s also a fitting introduction to a man that has spent the better part of his life trying to get closer to nature, running away from a career as a Stanford-educated doctor and imitating the apple-eating rituals of apes (he tries to avoid the skin). Director Doug Pray breezily runs through the history of the nine Paskowtiz children’s upbringing, spent traveling around the country in a camper, surfing by day and begrudgingly listening to their parents copulate “every fucking night.” But as they’re quick to remember now, Paskowitz forced his eccentricities on his kids with an iron fist: no sugars, no fats and no schooling, a decision that each one still contends with years later. Though now he says he was “too serious” as a parent, it’s telling that during the final family get-together, Paskowitz continues to criticize his son Abraham for having too much fat on his body. If the film’s contrived melodrama is just family in-fighting as usual, then Paskowitz isn’t so far from other “normal” parents: He tried to give his kids the life he wanted, only to find them throwing it back in his face.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 93 min
- Doug Pray
- Doug Pray
- Dorian Paskowitz, Juliette Paskowitz, Israel Paskowitz, Jonathan Paskowitz, Adam Paskowitz, Salvador Daniel Paskowitz, Joshua Paskowitz, Abraham Paskowitz
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