Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Doug Pray's cool documentary about 85-year-old Dr. Dorian Paskowitz, his wife, and their eight sons and one daughter is about surfing insofar as surfing is the family's shared passion.
  2. 91
    How can a freethinking father mandate his ideals without violating them? Pray covers it all, and movingly so.
  3. Pray has a great story here, but it's much more than just "The Brady Bunch's Endless Summer."
  4. 83
    It's a fascinating patchwork.
  5. Doug Pray’s wonderfully engaging look at love and family and the relentless pursuit of happiness, personal meaning and perfect waves.
  6. As you watch Doc Paskowitz perform for Mr. Pray's camera, it's hard not to judge him harshly. His narcissism seems boundless, even when he cloaks it in self-deprecation.
  7. Pray maintains a steadfastly objective viewpoint, and it's a testament to his film's success that it can accommodate the audience's inevitably shifting allegiances from one family member to the next.
  8. 75
    Chalk up another family for Leo Tolstoy and Philip Larkin file: The Paskowitz family is unhappy in its own unique way and mum and dad f**cked them up -- they didn't mean to, but they did.
  9. 75
    The movie feels exhaustive in its loaded 90-something minutes, showing and telling us much while leaving the meaning of the tangles and twists in this family open to interpretation. For once, the tip of the iceberg is enough.
  10. Filmmaker Pray, who is building an impressive body of documentaries on American subcultures, including the Seattle grunge scene in "Hype," graffiti artists in "Infamy" and truckers in "Big Rig," does an admirable job of allowing his subjects to represent themselves.
  11. Presents an almost fawning portrait of the doctor-turned-surfer.
  12. 75
    What are we to make of this existence? Doc sees himself a messiah of surfing, clean living and healthy exercise. We might be more inclined to see him as a narcissistic monster, ruling his big family with an iron fist.
  13. Reviewed by: Sid Smith
    The film is a restrained, straightforward report about an iconoclastic family whose pain and dysfunction play out against a backdrop of tumbling ocean waves, muscular surfers and golden sunsets.
  14. While the archival footage is fun, it's ultimately those bittersweet recollections of his equally energetic wife and adult children that give Surfwise its compelling edge.
  15. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Insightful, free-roaming but tautly constructed.
  16. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Somewhat forced happy ending aside, the pic holds together well.
  17. Pray unfolds the family's story with patience and skill, making it both a compliment and a complaint to say that he leaves us wanting to know much more.
  18. What Surfwise reveals is that the dark side of the surfing doctor was that he could be a terrible tyrant, someone whose controlling, self-centered rigidity limited his children in ways large and small as much as it gave them richer lives.
  19. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Whether you call this a Rousseau-ian paradise or "Capturing the Friedmans" by the Sea will depend on where you stand on hippie living--up to a point.
  20. The fallout decades later provides the drama in this documentary by Doug Pray (Hype!), who lets his eccentric octogenarian subject off a little too easy.

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