This Karate Kid-like tale sees Jay Moriarity (Johnny Weston), a 15-year-old kid from a seaside town in California, persuade grizzled surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to train him to surf one of the biggest and toughest breaks in the world. Frosty, taking a page out of Mr Miyagi’s book, almost never takes Jay surfing, and instead gets him to do everything else under the sun…like write deeply personal essays on fear! Wax-on/wax-off, anyone?
Predictably, the unconventional tutorial prepares this fatherless boy not only for his big day out in the water, but for life in general.
Bursting with clichés at every corner, this film contains some of the phoniest dialogue delivered by any cast, particularly Gerard Butler, whose character Frosty is required to solemnly dispense cheesy life-lessons, even as Jay tries to stay focused despite his alcoholic mother, his indecisive girlfriend, and the bullies at school. The story of the real Jay Moriarity, who died tragically in a diving accident at 22, is a moving one, but he deserved a better tribute than this shallow film that is riveting only in its final moments during which Jay finally faces those intimidating but breathtaking waves.
I’m going with two out of five for Chasing Mavericks. If you must, watch it for the stunning open-water photography.