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By tb-two* movie critic Ellen Pham, Chamberlain High
To say I’m disappointed after watching Chasing Mavericks would be an understatement. At the risk of sounding like an overbearing second-grade teacher, the movie would have been better if there had been some more effort made to reach its full potential. The real-life story that inspired Chasing Mavericks is powerful, but little of that energy gets captured onscreen.
Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) is a natural at surfing; he has been doing it since he was old enough to count the number of waves that crash on the rocks. He relies on surfing to bring him happiness, especially since his family life is murky. Aside from a letter that Jay is hesitant to read, Jay’s father barely makes contact with him. His mother (Elisabeth Shue) is a broken woman who tends to go for the wrong guy. Her struggles end up being Jay’s responsibilities. He makes sure his mother is on time for work, he does the laundry and gives his mother money when she needs it. Jay is forced in many ways to become an adult at an early age, which sets a sorrowful tone at the beginning of the movie.
Frosty (Gerard Butler), a fellow passionate surfer, is the dominant male presence in Jay’s life. After secretly catching a ride on Frosty’s truck one morning, Jay discovers that a mythical wave called Mavericks turns out to be real. Realizing Mavericks is one of the most difficult yet satisfying waves to surf, Jay persuades Frosty to help train him.
It’s a story of overcoming obstacles. Unfortunately, aside from the surfing twist, there isn’t much that sets it apart from the numerous other movies with that same agenda. The majority of the scenes are near the water, which is exciting at first but later becomes tiresome, especially when the scenes on land add little substance. No doubt the surfing is impeccable and the waves are gorgeous, but it’s better served for a trip to the Bahamas than to the theater.
A relatively new actor, Weston still has much to learn. He is too timid when the scene calls for him to be exuberant, which leads to his performance being swallowed by those of industry veterans. Butler is pleasant to watch but even he occasionally falters within the confines of his limiting character.
Even with good intentions, a combination of a weak script and lack of energy in Chasing Mavericks makes it dull and easily forgettable.