It seems surfing has become the sport most often used as the basis for family movies. Last year we had Soul Surfer and this year we have Chasing Mavericks. In Mavericks, which like Surfer is based on a true story, we get the story of teen surfer Jay Moriarity and his mentor Frosty Hesson. Their relationship and Jay's achievements in the surfing world make up the plot of the film. Anyone looking for an inspiring and emotional story will enjoy this movie.
Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) is very young when he meets surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). Frosty lives down the street from Jay and is an idol to the young boy whose father has virtually deserted the family. Jay's mother Kristy (Elisabeth Shue) has trouble keeping her life together and usually Jay ends up being the one adult in the family.
As the years pass Jay learns of the "mavericks" which are legendary waves that appear off the coast of California every few years. He begs Frosty to tell him more about the waves and to teach him how to surf them. Frosty at first is reluctant to encourage the boy but at the insistence of his wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) does decide to mentor Jay in surfing these monster waves. As the mentor relationship flourishes the instructions become as much life lessons as those about surfing.
Weston is perfectly cast as Moriarity. He can project just the right amount of innocence and wide-eyed enthusiasm necessary for the role without coming across as dumb or silly. He also seems perfectly capable of fulfilling the physical requirements of the role. He and Butler have an easygoing chemistry between them and play up the father/son type of relationship.
Butler has a roughness to him that Frosty needs. This character seems to be living an ordinary life while yearning to escape to the extraordinary. Butler fills his character with all of these yearnings.
Abigail Spencer is the emotional center of the film. Her role as Brenda is limited but she makes the most of every scene in which she participates. She has a delicate beauty and an illuminating smile which magnetize the audience each time she appears on screen. Shue's role is a minor one but she manages to make an impression as Kristy.
The film is rated PG for mild surfer violence.
Chasing Mavericks is not a flashy film. It tells its story in small effective chapters. Butler, Weston and Spencer work together to give the movie a strong emotional core that pays off when the end of the film arrives.
I scored "Chasing Mavericks" a waving 6 out of 10.