No, this isn’t a story of Dog the Bounty Hunter in hot pursuit of Sarah Palin and John McCain. Why hasn’t that movie been made yet? Chasing Mavericks is the first surfing movie I have seen on the big screen since Point Break (No, Blue Crush doesn’t exist in my universe). For such an awesome “sport” you’d think they’d constantly be making films about the danger and excitement that surfers live through. Though I used to think the same thing about Snowboarding movies in my late teens. Maybe they’re better off in just all star surf videos and documentaries. Because the stories that revolve around surfing are just not that dramatic. Because, really, it’s hard to ever feel bad for a character that gets to go to the beach everyday.
Mavericks is based on a true story revolving around surfer Jay Moriarty. From his early childhood, he is obsessed with the ocean. He learns to surf and the movie follows him at the age of 15, with a lot of surfing and life experience already under his belt. With a incompetent mother (Elizabeth Shue) and no father, he looks to his neighbor, Frosty (Gerard Butler) for guidance. It also doesn’t hurt that Frosty is a skilled surfer who surfs 30 foot waves. Apparently, Mavericks are the big waves. When Jay spots one of these, it becomes his life’s goal to surf one. Frosty knows that anyone without experience would be killed, so he takes Jay under his wing and trains him for the impending waves, which are only made larger with the help of El Nino.
Jonny Weston plays Jay Moriarty, and is one of the few cast members who actually looks his age. He looks like Brad from Home Improvement without a mullet. He does a fine job, but it’s hard to get into his backstory. The character you want to see more of is Frosty. Butler does a great job of portraying a grizzled surfer trying to balance his work, family, and passions. I would almost rather see a movie about him.
Beyond the proxy father/son relationship between the two surfers, the rest of the story does not work. Everything feels forced; from the inevitable girlfriend, the stoner best friend plot, or the bully who looks like he walked off the set of Grease 2.
Beyond it’s missteps, the surfing scenes are great. The filmmakers really give you a sense of panic and overwhelming force of each wave. I am now adding surfing to my list of extreme sports I am too afraid to pursue.
|Not from the movie, but it’s another reason I’ll never surf.|
I don’t often choose to see PG movies, but Mavericks is a family film with a little bit of excitement mixed in. There are several messages to get from this movie: Appreciate your family, Follow your dreams, and Be prepared when courting danger.
At nearly 2 hours, Mavericks is a bit long. There is so much training and mentoring that it could have been shortened to a montage (with Peter Cetera on the soundtrack). In fact, this movie plays out like a really long montage. It’s decent, but with limited surfing scenes, I can only recommend it for a rental.