Surfwise follows the odyssey of legendary surfer Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz.
Doc, a Stanford trained successful doctor, turned his back on his profession to follow his dreams, taking his wife Juliette and their nine children - all of whom were "homeschooled" on the beaches of Southern California, Hawaii and Mexico - along for the ride. They surfed every day of their lives and adhered to a strict diet of only organic and/or raw foods with no sugar or fat.
This documentary, which opens in select theaters on May 9th, is reminiscent of the Christopher Mcandless story of Into the Wild - a man staying true to his dreams in spite of the pressure of society to conform.
Doc Paskowitz certainly paints a very intriguing picture of the alternative life he chose for himself and his family. By turns he seems both Messianic and maniacal. He ruled his roost with an iron hand and set the tone for what was and wasn't acceptable. Doc is quite a character: extremely engaging, smart and funny to watch. The film is peppered with a spirit of "I can't believe he just said that" voyeurism. Watching the octogenarian exercise naked gives you the solid sense that his lifelong exercise regimen has really paid off.
The interviews with the children (all now quite grown) are also contradictory in their ruminations of the glory days of living free while at the same time somewhat bitter for it. All of them seem to appreciate their unorthodox upbringing but are also resentful for having not been given the tools to operate in modern society. I would argue that the children were not exactly homeschooled, but rather no schooled. As they try to make their way in the world, they find that a lack of education (even informal) is to their detriment.
More troubling is that each of them has found a moderate amount of success either in the music or surfing world, but were ill-equipped to handle the impending fame and dubious about the monetary rewards that came with it. Having learned all their lives that money doesn't matter makes it difficult to accept it later.
Their story is extremely inspiring, but cautionary at the same time (do you sense a pattern here?). Watching this movie will make you want to sell all your worldly possessions and buy an RV, convert it to run on waste vegetable oil and travel the country, living from whim to whim. Just make sure you actually educate your kids in the process.
If you get the opportunity to watch this well-made documentary, I urge you to do so. It is time well spent. I can honestly say this is one of those movies that moved me in many different ways and has truly influenced the way I view my future and the lifestyle choices we will be making.