Bra Boys (DVD Review)13 Jul, 2008 By: Pete Croatto
Prebook 7/15/08; Street 8/12/08
Box Office $0.1 million
Rated ‘R' for language, some violent content and reckless behavior.
Narrated by Russell Crowe.
Maroubra, a seaside suburb of Sydney, Australia, appears like it was built for failure. Home to a prison and a sewage plant, Maroubra has a history of poverty and hard times. Out of these circumstances came the Bra Boys, a “surf tribe” featuring a group of hard living, hard charging men with an unbreakable bond.
Director-writer Sunny Abberton, a longtime surfer, is a key member. Through interviews and home videos, Abberton details the Bra Boys' formation and its stormy, controversial history, which culminated with his brothers Jai and Koby (a talented pro) facing lengthy prison sentences for their alleged roles in a murder.
Abberton's movie is a loving tribute to the men who became his surrogate family. That appreciation is almost dwarfed by Abberton's feeble attempt to pass his love letter off as a news report. With narration from Russell Crowe and interviews with open-minded journalists and defense attorneys, there are a lot of somber trappings and pro-Bra Boys sentiment, but no counterpoint. Where's the district attorney or retired cop explaining why the authorities hated the surfers, or the local historian explaining the culture of fear the Bra Boys inspired?
The line of credibility is shattered when Abberton appears as an interview subject in his own documentary.
The movie works best when Abberton lets the surfers express themselves, either through words (how they've become mentors to a new generation) or actions (Koby's hedonistic, defiant quest to surf the world's best waves as his trial continues). If Abberton had been less concerned with generating good PR, Bra Boys could have been a classic look at male bonding. Instead, it's just a distraction for surfing enthusiasts and a second-rate history lesson.