I wasn’t sure how to take Chasing Mavericks initially after my viewing. Part of me saw all the negatives ,and made me dislike it quite a bit. Then another part of me was moved and started to see the positive aspects. I waited a day before attempting to write anything just to see how I would feel having slept on it. The dilemma still remained, and I decided to meet my feeling’s half way; the rating chosen was in the middle of the two. Whenever a true tragic story is tackled it can be tricky. While it is sad, it can be used to cover up the flaws and force you into an emotion and overall how you fell about the movie as a whole. A good deal of that issue is present here even though it’s not the most extreme case I’ve seen. Jay Moriarity is supposedly a legend in the surfing community – not sure how they’ll take this. While it’s been done worse, he deserved better.
When Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) was eight years old, he was saved from drowning from a local surfer, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). Seven years later Jay becomes a surfing phenomenon. He’s been surfing for years and loves to do it with all his heart. He wants to take his advanced abilities to the next level by surfing 20-foot-plus waves called “Mavericks.” Frosty is encouraged by his wife (Abigail Spencer) to be fatherly toward him and teach him how to surf the big waves. So, they begin to train. Even though it’s almost impossible not to know what happens if you see anything about this on the internet in any way, I won’t spoil.
I was flabbergasted enough to use that word when finding out who had directed this. Curtis Hanson directed one of my favorite movies, L.A. Confidential – he also produced and co-wrote the screenplay. None of that masterful directing is used for Chasing Mavericks; it was lacking any direction and needed it. The story would get lost in too many useless and tedious scenes. Also, the pacing of the movie was sloppy – and I’m being nice here. I hate to accuse someone like Hanson of not trying, but it’s apparent no effort went into the directional aspect of this whatsoever – aside from the absolute basics. I don’t believe Hanson was the right choice for this project in the first place though.
What could have fixed some tedious parts and small pacing problems would have been the script. This is Brandon Hooper’s first screenplay, so I’ll cut him some slack. The dialog ranges from mediocre to passable. The interactions between the characters are all what you would expect save for the ones between Jay and Frosty – I thought those actually had some heart to it. Attempt at humor was hit and miss. The story coasts through, for the most part, lacking much sense in some areas. At the end, you can feel the screenplay forcing you into an emotion; it doesn’t come naturally. It works in doing this for the exact moment the tragedy happens, but then you just feel manipulated.
The performances are just fine form everyone. Gerard Butler’s role doesn’t ask that much of him, but whatever it did ask was delivered. He plays all the sides of his characters well and also manages to do an American ascent well; except when he yells, his true voice comes out then. I feel bad for Elizabeth Shue; she’s been typecast lately and has been wasted in every movie she appears in for a few years now. I hope she’s given some good material to work with in Hope Springs which came out earlier in the year. Abigail Spencer is good, but isn’t great. Jonny Weston pulls off some aspects of the character and doesn’t in other areas. Overall, a very good performance is given. It just lacks some real depth. Taylor Handley and Leven Rambin range from just okay to bad.
The surfing scenes were done great; should have had more to distract from other things. They are great to watch (the ones in the latter part of the movie stand-out the most) and in are filmed in a way where you are actually pretty nervous while watching. A surfing scene would defiantly liven things up when getting too dull. I’ve swam far out in the ocean before, canoed and all that stuff. But never have I surfed or been anywhere near huge waves, don’t think I ever will either – especially after seeing this. When you get down to it, Chasing Mavericks is a movie that’s just simply “there.” I wouldn’t recommenced this on any level whatsoever; it works if it’s a slow night at your area Redbox or things of that nature.