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Grab Shell Dude: Going Vertical Review

I Love Surfing!

I Love Surfing!

Few people outside of the surfing world realise a debate has been raging for 42-years over which country is responsible for the shortboard revolution. A new surfing documentary from two-time Academy Award nominee David Bradbury seeks to settle the issue once and for all.

Going Vertical opens with some great vintage footage of surfers taking on huge waves on traditional longboards, complete with entertaining wipeouts. The film follows on with a who's who of the surfing universe explaining the significance of the shift from longboard to shortboard surfing. Now known as the shortboard revolution, it is the only time in surfing history that has a name. At the heart of the story are lifelong rivals and surfing royalty American Dick Brewer and Australian Bob McTavish, both now in their sixties (pictured above, promoting the film at the Currumbin surf museum). Filmed in Australia, Hawaii and California, and featuring extraordinary archive footage, the men each have a chance to explain why they were responsible for the shortboard revolution and how the other is, well, a phoney.

Sure, it may sound like two old-timers bickering but their stories are so extraordinary, so hilarious and so entertaining, you soon forget what these two were arguing over in the first place. Interviews with Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Layne Beachley, Laird Hamilton and Stephanie Gilmore add some colour as they weigh in on the debate and talk about the effect shortboards have had on the sport. Bradbury knows what he is doing and it shows in this sharp, memorable piece of filmmaking that chops from nostalgic recollections to cutting edge surfing footage like one of the film's stars on a wave.

The only criticism is Australian actor Simon Baker's narration, which sounds flat and lazy compared to the excited and vibrant voices of the surfers. Yet overall Going Vertical is slicker than your average surfing documentary, largely because of the juicy story behind it and the colourful array of characters on screen.This is a must-see for all surfing enthusiasts and lovers of quality documentaries. It is screening in limited release throughout Australian from Thursday, March 25 to Sunday, March 28.

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