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Bethany Hamilton was a 13-year-old competitive surfer when a shark attack severed her left arm. Soul Surfer is the story of her physical and spiritual recovery. AnnaSophia Robb (Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia) successfully captures Bethany’s struggle for understanding and independence. Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt are fine as her parents, while Carrie Underwood turns in a less-than-compelling debut performance as Bethany’s youth group leader. The film is melodramatic at times, and the people are both a little too beautiful and too broadly drawn, but I applaud it for being both entertaining and encouraging to young people to look to the plans God has for them rather than those of the world. The shark attack scene is unsettling, but not too graphic. In theaters now, this movie is guaranteed to produce a new generation of young girls who are torn between their desire to learn to surf and a newfound fear of sharks. (Sony)

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