Film » Film Features

Opening: Chasing Mavericks

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The story behind Maverick’s, the big wave surfing spot in Northern California, is a good one. The waves there are so huge, they weren’t even deemed surf-worthy until the ’70s, and even now the risk is so great that many experienced surfers steer clear of the area. Sixteen-year-old Jay Moriarity was one of the youngest surfers to ever tackle the big waves there. Chasing Mavericks, a biopic about Jay and the ’80s surf scene in Northern California, documents how Jay (Jonny Weston) followed the tutelage of Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) and trained to develop the stamina he’d need to stay under water for long periods of time and endure the long swim out to the breakwater. But while the true story behind Chasing Mavericks is a good one, this film co-directed by Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, In Her Shoes) and Michael Apted (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) focuses too much on Jay’s family issues and how he has difficulty dealing with his parents’ divorce. It also makes Frosty into some kind of guru who speaks in empty platitudes about overcoming fear and facing adversity. The surfing scenes are truly spectacular and capture Maverick’s danger and beauty (and Butler was reportedly even injured during the making of the movie) but the storyline trivializes the subject matter.

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