Product Reviews

Thicker Than Water

Thicker Than Water

Still One Of The Best
Still One Of The Best

Thicker Than Water
Directed and produced by Chris Malloy
Directed/Filmed/Scored by Jack Johnson
Directed/Edited by Emmett Malloy

Sweet as a nut.

Thicker Than Water is a classic, and definitely belongs in any self-respecting surf video collection. TTW focuses on the element of the family and friendship involved in surfing—whether you’re stuck together on a boat in the middle of nowhere, or you opt to surf your home break with friends instead of go on yet another fancy boat trip. Voice-overs of surfers nostalgically recalling their first waves and first cutbacks are enough to bring a tear to your eye.

There’s a fun section where a number of different surfers all try to use this green singlefin board. It’s a great comparison of styles and approaches to surfing. Of course Slater puts it through moves like it’s the most cutting edge hi-performance board on the market.

I wasn’t too sure about the random New York City section, but it doesn’t hurt the film. Being from New York I was disappointed they didn’t show some shots of New York surfing!

Surfing: All shortboarding here, but it’s good. Nothing breakthrough—no 360 loop-de-loop aerials or anything, but good clean shortboarding. Surfers aren’t named—you’ll probably recognize a few faces. The beginning of the movie features a tiny Jon Jon Florence.

Waves/Locations: Good mix of “local” breaks and perfect Indonesian tubes. Cold and windy Ireland, California, Indo. Most spots are not named.

Music: Thicker Than Water offers an excellent mix of ethnically inspired folk, techno, soul, bluegrass, vocal and instrumental. Some songs are a little repetitive, but most of the tracks are instant hits. There’s even a chain-gang song on here. Make sure to purchase the special edition that comes with the soundtrack CD. I especially liked the African type spiritual chant that accompanied the T’eaupoo section.

Editing: One of the most well edited movies out there. Synched up with the music expertly, the wave sections are excellent: never too quick or too long.

Cinematography: Done entirely in 16mm (yeah!), Thicker Than Water offers a good mix of land and water photography. Most shots are very crisp and colorful. The film doesn’t slo-mo you to death either—there are some sections where the surfers are going so fast it almost seems the film was sped up. The framing is always very tight, and I wish there were more wide perspectives. Very artistic shots of kids jumping off bridges, Kelly Slater building a guitar, Irish castles and pubs, thunderstorms, crowded Indonesian streets, etc.

Extras: Great extra clips – some great cinematography and surf clips, and some great songs. I loved “Carnival.”
Jack Johnson’s “Holes to Heaven” song with accompanying video was great. I wish they played this on MTV. You’d probably never know Holes to Heaven was a song about surf travel unless you saw this. All the lyrics are illustrated with some great cinematography into a little narrative.
The feature commentary is worth the price alone…it’s like having a second movie with all the interesting tidbits they talk about.

Thicker Than Water: 5 out of 5


Hayley Gordon

Hayley is an avid surfer and the founder of this website. She splits her time surfing between Encinitas, CA and Montauk, NY.

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