Despite being as corny and straightforward as a movie can get, the
real-life surfing story Chasing Mavericks
succeeds from beginning to end. In fact, its adherence to conventional
storytelling essentially makes this a throwback to the cheesy, inspirational
sports movies of the '70s and '80s, like The
Karate Kid, Vision Quest, and,
one of my all-time favorites, Breaking
The cast is only as good as it needs to be. Newcomer Jonny Weston
sports a horrific blond perm as the noble Jay Moriarty, a kid who works hard,
stays out of trouble, and keeps his alcoholic mother (Elisabeth Shue) on track.
He's so relentlessly positive it's alarming.
After his neighbor Frosty (Gerard Butler) rescues him from drowning on
his surfboard, Jay takes up surfing. He regularly looks up to Frosty, despite his
sheer ineptitude as a parent. Jay becomes a good surfer but becomes completely
enamored with the rush of narrowly escaping death on Mavericks, rare waves that
can get as high as 30 feet. He eventually convinces Frosty to train him. But
Jay gets more than he bargained for when Frosty keeps the focus on his mental
and emotional preparation.
The training montages are pretty standard, and Jay fails, then meets,
every challenge thrown his way, all while having to deal with bullies, his best
friend's drug habit, his mom's depression, and his unrequited love for his
childhood pal Kim. Played by Levin Rambin, she's just as beautiful but 10 times
the actress Blake Lively is. Though her big moment is thoroughly unconvincing,
she's right in line with the totally adequate cast.
Chasing Mavericks continues
to chase its clichés, fully invested in every crest and fall. It's not going to
win any awards"”though its cinematography impresses"”but it's entertaining and
free of CGI or 3-D or any ambitions beyond telling its story. It's not only
beautiful to watch but also occasionally inspirational. All that makes Chasing Mavericks the movie you need to