Surf movies are sort of a niche within the genre of sports films. Aside from such titles as Johnny Tsunami (1999), Rip Girls (2000) and Blue Crush (2002), the number of feature surf flicks pales in comparison to, say, baseball or football films. Now, Fox 2000 Pictures brings us Chasing Mavericks, a bio-drama about teen surfer Jay Moriarity (played by Jonny Weston).
In 1994, the Santa Cruz high school sophomore spends his life going to class, working at a local pizza joint, helping his unstable mom (Elisabeth Shue) get back on her feet and catching every wave possible. When he discovers his neighbor and idol Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) has a secret yet dangerous surf spot called Mavericks, his main priority is persuading Frosty he’s experienced and prepared enough to ride the biggest waves.
Abigail Spencer and Leven Rambin co-star as Frosty’s wife and Jay’s crush, and Devin Crittenden plays Jay’s best friend. Based on the true story of Moriarity’s inspirational love of surf and surviving in the water, Chasing Mavericks is definitely a visually stimulating film. Co-directed by Curtis Hanson of L.A. Confidential (1997) and Michael Apted of Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), the feature includes some beautiful footage of the beach and surfing sequences, but drowns under a rather messy screenplay structure and some bad acting (e.g., Butler’s accent). In the end, the film is best enjoyed by surf fans.