Off the Lip

Off the Lip, directed by Robert Mickelson, is yet another contribution to the “Mainland Airheads Go to Hawai`i to Act Stupid” genre. In between mostly gratuitous surfboard scenes at the Banzai Pipeline on O`ahu and windsurfing at Pa`ia on Maui, there actually is a plot. The executive of a Los Angeles firm, Off the Lip, hires Kat (played by Marguerite Moreau) to go to the Aloha State to film a documentary about a legendary (and mythical) surfer known as The Monk. (If the screenwriter was thinking of The Duke, for Duke Kahanamoku, he is decades out of date.) Kat is to act as a reporter on the road, sending images back to the firm’s LA computer geek, videophone to videophone. She receives $2,500 in cash as per diem, is promised $3,000 weekly, and has a reservation made for her at the Kea Lani Hotel on Maui. After her arrival, with her boyfriend as a stowaway unknown to her boss, Kat goes to the beach to meet several mangy Mainland expatriates who pretend to lead her to The Monk, aware that she has a lot of cash to distribute. En route, the camera takes filmviewers to such celebrated tourist spots as the road to Hana, Lindbergh’s burial place (unidentified in the dialog), the Seven Sacred Pools (also unidentified), as well as scenes on the islands of Moloka`i (mispronounced, of course) and, much later, Lanai`i. Although her job turns out to be a scam, Kat might have an opportunity to grow up from the experience. Alas, her father arrives to rescue her when she has run out of money, bringing marijuana for all so that he can revert to his adolescence. In many ways, the plot of Off the Lip resembles the much better crafted The Beach (2000). But Off the Lip is a surfer film that shamefully exploits Hawai`i scenery, portrays the Islands as a playground for Mainland misfits, portrays local people as idiots, and fails to reveal the real culture of the Islands. If Hollywood wants to make a respectful film about Hawai`i, there are plenty of stories, and the early deprecating reference to the Islands as a “foreign country” should have given a hint to the screenwriter that everyday life is different enough in the Aloha State to merit a genuine cinematic, respectful contribution.  MH

Scroll to Top