Documentary Review: ‘And Two If By Sea’

Soccer may be known as the beautiful game, but the most beautiful sport has to be surfing. The combination of athleticism, danger, and visual beauty as turquoise water with white crests forms the perfect pipe for the riders to glide through in static chaos, leaves little room for argument. From the moment their father introduced them to the sport twin brothers CJ and Damien Hobgood new, they wanted to find a career that would allow them to surf the most. The answer seemed obvious to the pair of 10-year-olds, just become professional surfers. As luck would have it, they would not only become professionals but be placed among the best with the likes of Kelly Slater. CJ would even go on to win a world championship. Partnering with their childhood friend and filmmaker, Justin Purser, the brothers wanted to share their story of sibling love and rivalry on surfing’s biggest stage in the new documentary And Two If By Sea. The intimate look at their lives from being born in Florida’s space coast to becoming world travelers, interviews from sponsors, photographers, the surfing elite, and narration from comedian Daniel Tosh, make And Two If By Sea a surfing doc unlike any other. 1091 Media will be releasing the passion project to all major VOD platforms starting December 17th.

Most sports-based documentaries want to explore a situation or individual from a serious point of view. Look at all the work this athlete has put into becoming the best, look at the odds this team overcame to be the champions, or, look at could have been if it weren’t for X. That is the primary dividing line between And Two If By Sea and everything else. Most of the film is presented with a lighthearted nature. It opens and closes on just what is a Hobgood, and whether the answer is fish, fowl, hillbilly, or competitive jerk, everyone has an opinion about the brothers. The presence of Tosh also adds to the carefree nature because he uses his particular brand of comedy to keep things from becoming too serious. This temperament fits well with the brothers’ laissez-faire approach to life, but the brothers do know when to be series, and the film follows suit. Their serious nature comes out in two instances, when they are in the water, and when there is an issue with their family.

CJ, Damien, and Justin worked on this movie for six years, that is a tremendous amount of time to edit, and add in new stories if they finished the project in 2013 it would be considerably different than that is now available. This was Justin Purser’s feature-length directing debut, and you couldn’t ask for a much better premiere. However, all the time spent working and developing the movie plus near-limitless access makes this a problematic predictor for future success. He will likely never have this timeframe and this level of access again in his career; however, the strength of And Two If By Sea should be enough to open him up to plenty of opportunities. The film’s new footage is gorgeous, and the movie reasonably well-paced. The story never drags, but it is easy to lose a sense of time, if I stopped on a random scene, I couldn’t tell you if they were taking place in 2005 or 2013 unless someone mentioned the year a tournament was taking place. The Hobgoods and Purser let me have more fun than I ever thought I could with a documentary about surfing. A sport I know nothing about other than it was an X-Game at one point and that Slater is the best to ever do it, but now I know the Hobgoods, and I am happy about that.

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