From the road trippin' to the beaches to the philosophical nature of creating your own version of utopia, Surfwise (2007) is a fascinating documentary about the Paskowitz family - and some surfing too.
Like the other documentaries that I've written about as part of this 9 Docs Project, I picked up this movie when the Movie Gallery went out of business. When you have nothing to go on except the cover of the movie you're setting yourself up to be surprised, and Surfwise did that in a great way.
On the surface it seemed like just a story about a family of surfing hippies, but in actuality it's about the conflict between total freedom and social responsibility. More specifically, it's about parenting. The Paskowitz family lived for experiences, but in an effort to be truly free from the makeup of everyday society they (as in the parents) made some clear sacrifices on the part of their children.
While watching this movie I just kept thinking about how much fun it looked, but how I'd come to despise the reality of constantly being stuck in a motor home for those long drives with 11 people. As you might expect, a lot of the kids felt the same way. The entire experience is essentially a way of life dictated by the father. His lessons are earnest and steeped in self-fulfillment through dedication and passion, but at the same time you're left to continually question the disconnect. I empathized with the kids, but felt like Dad was taking the easy way out under the banner of 'if I can't have it my way it's not worth doing'.
Obviously no one wants to be a slave to a job or live a life without enjoyment, but in some capacity you have to ask yourself what you are contributing to society - even in some small way. We can't be in it just for ourselves - or can we? There's not a right or wrong answer here exactly, which ultimately leaves you asking more questions.
Surfwise was fascinating, entertaining, and a great looking documentary. I was really impressed with how much this one got me thinking about so many of my own views in contrast to theirs. Whether you agree with how they did things or not, the truth is you can't deny that they got a great story out of it all. Check it out. 8/10