Starring Johnny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue and Abigail Spencer. Written by Kario Salem and Jim Meenaghan. Directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson. Produced by Gerard Butler, Kathleen Courtney, Curtis Hanson, Brandon Hooper, Georgia Kacandes, Jim Meenaghan and Alan Siegel.
As you would've thought, Chasing Mavericks offers some spectacular footage of boards and surfers racing along the inside of massive walls of ocean water along with a lot of romanticizing the unconventional sport. Respect for the waves and deep philosophizing are discussed throughout the film and surfing is treated like something sacred, which is plausible because it truly is a unique skill to possess. But, where the film loses points is in originality- its melodramatic plot is one we see too often and its outcome is exactly what is expected.
Based on the true story of Jay Moriarty (Weston), Chasing Mavericks tells how the famous surfer discovered his love of the sport and how he trained to later survive one of the worst wipeouts in history. His interest in surfing as a child was refined by his trainer, a surfer named Frosty (Butler) who he forms a father-son relationship with and enlists to help him ride a mythical wave called a 'maverick'. And on top of conquering this wave, Moriarty must deal with his overworked alcoholic mother and learn to cope with his absent father. Together, him and Frosty find peace in the waters of the ocean and receive the strength to handle the obstacles of their personal lives.
This movie works in deglamorizing surfing and the athletes that do it, showing the baggage and problems that aren't necessarily associated with professional athletes and breaking out of the care free beach bum cliche seen frequently on television and movies. What doesn't work, however, is the melodramatic treatment of Moriarty's home life, which has become a cliche especially for teen movies throughout the years- the heavy handed treatment of his broken relationships is neither realistic nor exciting. The film does offer emotionally moving performances and the genuine chemistry between Weston and Butler is the glue that holds everything together- watching them interact is humorous and sweet at the same time and enough to make you leave the theatre feeling optimistic and hopeful.