At the time of writing, Andy Irons: Kissed by God has an IMDB score of 8.2/10 and a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 100%. It’s one of the highest-rated surfing movies ever—a veritable classic, by all accounts.
But what makes this film unique, why has it been so highly rated, and does it live up to the hype?
Andy Irons: Kissed by God Review
Andy Irons is often labeled as one of the greatest surfers in the history of the sport. He was—and remains—an icon, and his feats on the surf are legendary. But his challenges extended far beyond the sport of surfing, as the Hawaiian-born surfer struggled with drug addiction and bipolar disorder.
How Did Andy Iron Die?
In 2010, two years after he was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame and six years after he won his third world title, Andy Irons was found dead in a Texas hotel room.
Pathologists found a cocktail of drugs in his system, and the life of the 32-year-old icon was snuffed out.
It’s a tragic story, but most of it happened behind the scenes, with the public only getting glimpses into the turmoil that occurred in the former champion’s personal life.
In Andy Irons: Kissed by God, the truth of Andy’s struggle is revealed in its raw and traumatic detail. It’s not all about the bad times, though, and we also see how Andy became Andy with an explanation of the difficulties he faced at elementary school.
Cast and Story: Todd Jones, Steve Jones, and Kelly Slater
Directors Todd Jones and Steve Jones tell a very dark, touching, and oftentimes heartbreaking story that is accentuated with moments that capture the brilliance and genius of Andy Irons.
Throughout the film, we are introduced to the people that mattered the most to Andy, including his wife, Lyndie, who stuck by him throughout his troubles.
Kelly Slater also plays a big role in the documentary. For a long time, Andy Irons was Slater’s greatest rival. His nemesis. But it’s clear that Andy’s death had a big impact on Slater and his emotion is evident during the heartfelt interviews.
A Story About Addiction and Mental Illness
Andy Irons: Kissed by God is not your traditional film about professional surfing. Sure, it documents Andy’s career and we see glimpses into the moments that made this champion surfer such an icon, but Andy’s life was also deeply troubled and those troubles are placed front and center.
We learn about his struggles with mental health, including bipolar disorder and learning difficulties, which he suffered from at an early age. We are told about his descent into drug and alcohol abuse, and we also see what it was like to live with this from an insider’s perspective (mainly from Andy’s widow, but also from his friends and fellow surfers).
It’s a documentary that will leave a lasting impact on you, and one that will give you fresh insights into Irons’ life and the challenges imposed on him by the surf industry and his own mental health.
If you or someone you know struggles with mental illness please seek help. This page on the Mayo Clinic site about mental illness can be a good place to start.
A Review of Andy Irons: Kissed by God
Kissed by God is the untold story of Andy Irons, and it is every bit as touching, thought-provoking, and brilliant as its IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes listings would have you believe.
It’s not just a film for fans of surfing and the titular champion. It’s a film that will also resonate with anyone who has experienced mental illness and substance abuse.
It’s definitely worth watching. In fact, we will go as far as to say that it’s one of the best extreme sports documentaries ever made.
It’s worth noting, however, that the film may be triggering for people who have experienced similar issues.