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Film review: Endless Summer II, The

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Bruce Brown brings his down-home, backyard narrative style to "The Endless Summer II," billed as a sequel to his landmark 1964 documentary, which followed two surfers around the world as they searched for the perfect wave. (The title refers to the surfers' attempt to follow the summer season as it travels the globe.)

In truth, however, "The Endless Summer II" is more of a remake, and even includes some of the same supporting players who were in the first film.

There are some significant differences in this film, however. Where Brown made the first "Endless Summer" by using a simple, handheld 16mm camera, here he uses state-of-the-art 35mm equipment. This allows him to obtain some truly spectacular shots of unbelievable waves in locations around the world.

Brown has recruited two young surfers to retrace the steps that were taken by the surfers in his first film. Californians Robert "Wingnut" Weaver and Patrick O'Connell are obviously having the time of their lives here, though neither was born when Brown's original movie was released.

Brown provides the voiceover narration, a commentary that brings us up to date on the lives of some of the first film's players, as well as the state of surfing in the world today. While it was once a fairly exclusive sport, surfing has since taken on worldwide significance — at least in coastal regions.

If Brown's equipment is now up to date, his film and narrative style hasn't changed a bit. His one-liners are just as corny as they were in the first movie, and some of the visual gags he sets up are extremely silly.

Still, there's a homey charm to all of this, as if you're sitting in Brown's living room and he's narrating silent films he took on vacation. His voice is affable and appealing, and he manages to somehow make it all come together, especially when he's commenting on inherently amusing material — surfing dogs, a surfing 5-year-old boy, or Weaver and O'Connell finding themselves embarrassed to be on a French beach where the women are topless.

Despite the occasional digressions — and the film is not without its dry spells — some sequences, especially an extended set-piece in Australia, are downright hilarious.

Essentially a simple travelogue, taking us through Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Bali, Java, Fiji, Hawaii, France and Alaska — that's right, there are two, count them, two surfers in Alaska — it's hard to deny that there is a grandeur and natural beauty to all this.

Brown captures some amazing material as he takes us inside the tubes of the waves, under the water, and behind and in front of the surfers as they weave in and out.

There are also genuinely harrowing moments — from huge waves that become vehicles for our intrepid surfers, to a rafting trip down narrow rapids, to encounters with wild animals (lions playfully attack their stalled vehicle in South Africa; an Australian crocodile leaps out of a pond at them), to a wild crash-landing by a small airplane.

Through it all, Brown cracks wise and simply tries to provide an entertaining two hours. The film falters occasionally, but he pretty much achieves his goal.

"The Endless Summer II" is rated PG for nudity and a few mildly vulgar jokes.