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To say that Step Into Liquid is merely about surfing is like suggesting the Bible is about a few nice guys and a flood. Filmmaker Dana Brown embraces his subject with near-religious fervor, and though the incredible footage he presents ably backs up breathless testimonies about how great surfing can be, it can be difficult to stay stoked during the entire 88-minute sermon. Brown’s enthusiasm is a family thing: His dad, Bruce Brown, made the groundbreaking 1966 surfing documentary The Endless Summer and its follow-up, 1994’s The Endless Summer 2, which Dana helped write. Brown mimics his father’s style, alternating surfer commentary with his own gee-whiz narration, always sounding more like a blissed-out fan than any kind of authority. Whereas the Endless Summers were neatly shaped around the travels of two adventure-seekers, though, Step Into Liquid tries to take on the whole wide world of surfing, trotting the globe from Texas to Ireland to Vietnam and stopping for feedback from seemingly everyone in between. Brown smartly eschews Dad’s cheesy attempts at visual humor and lets the featured surfers’ personalities supply the sparkle: Along with the hot-dogging of champion surfers such as Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, and Summer vets Robert “Wingnut” Weaver and Robert August, Brown showcases the sport’s unknown enthusiasts, from young girls (“It’s not like soccer, with all the moms yelling on the side”) to the obsessive Dale Webster, who’s vowed to surf every day for an entire “28-year lunar cycle.” The director oversteps with an underlying surfing-can-change-the-world agenda, most cloyingly offered in a segment of how Protestant-Catholic rancor seems to disappear among kids who surf in Northern Ireland. Still, most of the documentary is light and likable, and Brown sure knows how to atone for his sins: The sight of a deafening, avalanchelike 60-footer chasing a brave surfer to shore is enough to make you forgive any amount of proselytizing. —Tricia Olszewski