¨There are all kinds of sons. Some are born to you, some just occur to you.¨
Chasing Mavericks is based on the life of Jay Moriarity, a young surfer who at the age of 15 managed to surf one of the biggest waves in California during the tropical storm El Niño. Unfortunately the film is full of clichés and one dimensional characters. I don´t have any complaints with the scenes that take place in the Ocean, the big waves and surfing scenes are fun to look at. I didn’t find it hard to believe that this kid could surf such big waves, what I found hard to believe is that this kid would act and speak the way he did as the rest of the characters in the film. The dialogue here was just awful, and it only took me half a minute to realize that after the terrible opening narration by Gerard Butler saying ¨We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea.¨ I don’t think the film does justice to the rest of the people involved in the surfing community either. They pretty much made all his friends look like complete jerks with the exception of two or three people. Chasing Mavericks is completely predictable and at the same time very cheesy. You have this opening scene where you see Jay at age 8 on his way to surf and he runs into a boy smashing cars with his baseball bat who looks mad at him. Then seven years later Jay is all grown up surfing like a champ and he runs into this guy making fun of him with a bat on his hand. It doesn’t get much cheesier than that. The scenes in the water are great, but each time you see these guys in land you are left disappointed. I don’t think this film depicts the surfer culture very well. If you want to see a good surf movie go see Bigelow´s 1991 Point Break which is a much better film than this. I´m sure Moriarity was a great guy, and he deserves a much better film than this.
Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) lives in a small Californian coastal town with his single mother Kristy (Elisabeth Shue). Jay enjoys what any other normal teenager living off the coast of California loves to do: surf and he has an exceptional talent for it. He has always admired the local surfing legend, Frosty (Gerard Butler), who happened to save his life once when he was a child. When Jay discovers that the Mavericks surf break exist just miles from his home he asks for his help to train him. Jay has dreamt of surfing these gigantic waves all of his life, but Frosty is not up to the task considering it is far too dangerous for the kid. His wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) on the other hand convinces Frosty to help Jay since he´s always looked up to him as a father figure. Knowing that Jay will probably try to surf the waves on his own, she convinces Frost to help him. Soon student and teacher will be training together to accomplish a task that seems impossible. They have 12 weeks before the big waves hit the coast once again. Jay begins training really hard for this, and during his free time he spends it with his childhood sweetheart, Kim (Leven Rambin), with whom he´s had a crush on for years. The training sessions help Jay grow as a person as he draws closer and closer to Frosty as a father figure who teaches him to face his fears.
The film was directed originally by Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential and 8 Miles), but due to health problems he had to abandon the project, and Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist, Nell) took over during the final production weeks. I was surprised something this bad could come out of such talented directors, but the main problem in my opinion was the script from Kario Salem. The characters and dialogues were extremely cheesy at times. It just tries too hard to be inspirational. This biopic felt way too much dramatized at times. The Mavericks surf footage aren’t enough to save this melodramatic sports biopic. There is nothing unique or fresh about the friendship between Jay and Frosty, everything is full of clichés. The film was much better on water than it was on land due in large part to the bad script and some bad acting from the supporting cast. The film might have its heart in the right place, but it just doesn’t work. I may be wrong and surfers might like this movie, but I don’t think this film really reflects that surfing culture in the way it intends to. You know there has to be a problem with the film when it’s easier to believe the surfing of the gigantic waves´ scenes than the actual family drama.