By Matt Beauchesne/Irons Brothers Productions
The much-anticipated A Fly In the Champagne premeiered last night at the La Paloma Theater in classic fashion. You know the drill by now. Free stuff at the door (in this case chips and guac.) Seats filled with all of North County's favorite surf bros. A guest appearance by a fired-up Andy Irons. And Chris Cote on the mic, claiming that D Street is polluted, Transworld is the best surf mag in the world and we were about to witness the "best surf movie ever."
Cote was right on one account. D Street definitely has some high fecal counts after all that rain. A Fly In the Champagne (great title, by the way) is, essentially, Letting Go with a feel-good freesurf trip tacked on at the end. While Beauchesne is a talented editor who will likely go on to make many smash hits with Irons Brothers Productions, and Sal Masekela is the James Earl Jones of surf film narration, this movie should have been less ESPN documentary re-hash and more reality show. The great Kelly/Andy world title clashes have been retold a few times now, and nothing new is revealed in Fly.
What would have been interesting, though, is a candid, real-time documentation of their first real freesurf trip together (on their own accord). How did they carry themselves around each other? Stick the camera in front of them when they're outside, late at night, having another "I love you like a brother" moment. Put us in the water and let us listen in as they exchange waves. Yes, it's way harder to pull off. But this is the type of stuff that could have taken Fly to a whole different level. Instead, it will likely fall into the "Also See" category of Andy/Kelly rivalry films.
Of course, there's some good surfing in "The Trip" section of this movie. Both Andy and Kelly have some poetic moments in ultra-fast and sectiony Rifles and Nokanduis. And Andy's vertical backside blasts looks as sharp as ever in this film and remind you that he's far from done.
Is Fly worth seeing? Definitely. Will it give you a whole new perspective on the "greatest rivalry in surfing?" Doubtful. Which means that it's a movie with plenty of buzz, but not enough bite.
[If you missed last night, you can see A Fly in the Champagne tonight at the Arlington in Santa Barbara. Kelly will be there, too, but don't expect any celebrity death matches.]