The itinerary includes stops in Australia, Bali, Costa Rica, Fiji, France, Hawaii, Java, and South Africa. The Endless Summer ll even ventures north to Alaska, where the water temperature is a balmy 39 degrees and intrepid surfers have to pass through the domain of some grumpy brown bears. (Animals are a big part of The Endless Summer ll. In the course of their odyssey, Weaver and O'Connell dodge caimans, elephants, lions, geese, howler monkeys, fruit bats, and deadly Fijian sea snakes. Brown lavishes so much camera time on the critters that you can be forgiven for wondering if he's intercut his surfing extravaganza with an episode of Wild Kingdom. You half expect to see Marlin Perkins toting a surfboard. And the juxtaposition of a pair of California golden boys with all the wildlife often gives the film a comical Bill and Ted-meets-The Gods Must Be Crazy feel.) While the geographical transitions are not seamless, Brown's narration smoothes out most of the rough spots.
A wave is not just a wave. Different locales have distinct personalities based on a multiplicity of factors A water depth, wind direction, smoothness of underlying land mass, et cetera. Brown's detailed explanations of such arcana will regale some and weary others. It's not just a bunch of cool shots of guys gliding through perfect barrels or wiping out, although there are plenty of those. There are some wonderful nonsurfing scenes, such as when a stranger takes O'Connell and Weaver to a remote surfing location in Costa Rica and crashes his seaplane in the process. Or when a pride of hungry lions climbs aboard the frail, stalled dune buggy the boys are driving and rips apart their wetsuits. And the shot of the surfer who gets thrown so high from a monster wave that he's nearly diced by the propeller blades of a hovering helicopter was a few inches away from making it into the next Faces of Death installment.
Granted, the movie isn't perfect. Brown's hokey staging of Weaver saying goodbye to his girlfriend falls flat, as do some of the narrator's cornier jokes. And the film is howlingly politically incorrect. White surfers blissfully frolic in South Africa without a care. In France O'Connell cannot stop ogling topless women at the beach. (He's obviously never been to Fourteenth Street on a Saturday.) Surfing may have progressed drastically in the 30 years since Brown made the original Endless Summer, but the director's chauvinism hasn't.
All in all, though, it's a pretty gnarly ride. It's too long by a good fifteen minutes, but what the hell. It'll get you stoked anyway. I'm ready to give surfing another try. Maybe by the time Brown gets around to filming The Endless Summer lll in another 30 years, there'll be a part available for the first geezer to surf the North Coast of Oahu with a walker. Then I'll blow this pop stand, I can tell you that.