Friday, October 26, 2012

A Surfing Soap Opera


“Chasing Mavericks” Not Just a Surf Film

“Chasing Mavericks” is not just another surf film. Oh there are plenty of great wave shots, but “Chasing Mavericks” is more a biographical drama about a real surfer who lived a tragically short life.
That surfer was one Jay Moriarity, played by Jonny Weston. The screenplay, written by Kario Salem and based on a story by Jim Meenaghan, concentrates on Jay’s relationship with an older surfing mentor, Frosty Hesson, played by Gerard Butler.
The script is the weakest part of “Chasing Mavericks,” co-directed by American Curtis Hanson and British Michael Apted. In between his rigorous training with Frosty, Jonny deals with typical adolescent problems. His mother (Elizabeth Shue) drinks too much and his father is absent. He is bullied on the beach and at high school by some of the locals. He has a crush on an “older woman” named Kim (Leven Rambin). None of this is terribly original or interesting.
What is interesting is the real achievement of Jay Moriarity, who landed on the cover of Surfer magazine at age 16 when he was filmed in a spectacular wipeout at Mavericks, which is north of Jonny’s home town of Santa Cruz, California off of half Moon Bay. Gerard Butler radiates a convincing tough surfer-dude vibe. Butler was hospitalized after being injured doing his own surf stunts. The close-up shots are laughably fakey: Frosty and Jay sit discussing philosophical points on their boards in calm water one moment and peeling down the face of a 50-foot wave in the next. Hey, it’s only a movie.

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