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 "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews

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PostSubject: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:52 pm

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:56 pm

Hollywood Reporter Review:

Chasing Mavericks: Film Review
Awe-inspiring footage and solid performances help this otherwise flatly formulaic biopic catch an emotional wave.

Despite a generic inspirational template and a change of directors in the eleventh hour of filming, the surfing pic manages to sufficiently overcome the obstacles with affecting results.

Despite its many challenges, including a generic inspirational sports movie template that piles on the cliches, and a change of directors during the last few weeks of shooting, Chasing Mavericks manages to sufficiently overcome the obstacles with admittedly affecting results.

Credit some pulse-pounding surf footage and a dedicated cast headed by Gerard Butler and fresh-faced newcomer Jonny Weston for bringing home the true story of Santa Cruz boarding phenom Jay Moriarty and his mentor, local legend, Rick “Frosty” Hesson.

While it release would appear to be keyed to the traditional Nov. 1 start of the Jay at Mavericks Big Wave memorial invitational, it’s going to face an additional, seemingly insurmountable challenge going up against the likes of Cloud Atlas and the Halloween-themed Fun Size.

The mentor/student and symbolic father/son relationship between Hesson and Moriarty initially captured the attention of director Curtis Hanson, and, subsequently Michael Apted, who stepped in for an ailing Hanson late into the production.

That bond between the 15-year-old Santa Cruz teen with a part-time job at a local pizzeria and his neighboring, sun-wizened elder was formed over their mutual obsession over the Mavericks, the near-mythic surf break responsible for some truly monster waves.

Determined to personally tame the big wave despite the inherent dangers, Moriarty readily agrees to Hesson’s strictly-regimented training program, while also juggling school, his job, his fragile mother (an sympathetic Elisabeth Shue) and his pent-up feelings concerning an absentee father.

Hesson, on the other hand, has a supportive wife (Abigail Spencer) and a young family also requiring his attention.

Ironically, considering all that raging water and pumping adrenalin, it’s a disappointment to have their story’s telling so drily and listlessly executed.

The script, by Kario Salem (Don King: Only in America, The Rat Pack), adheres heavily to formulaic platitudes rather than allowing the energetic, youthful milieu to dictate something with much more vitality.

Fortunately a third-act plot development lends the well-meaning but bland proceedings the emotional investment needed, and the cast capably takes it home.

As no-nonsense Hesson, Butler convincingly invests his character with a commanding presence and rugged physicality, although it’s a shame the Scottish-born actor’s commitment to a credible, consistent American accent wasn’t as equally fierce.

Newcomer Weston, meanwhile has a clean-scrubbed, wide-eyed appeal as the determined young Moriarty, who would ultimately drown the day before his 23rd birthday while diving in the Malidives.

And while those gargantuan Santa Cruz waves have been impressively captured by cinematographer Bill Pope, only at the film’s climax to they feel truly organic to the accompanying plotline, rather than dropped in sporadically to inject the drab dramatics with some much-needed local color.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 26 (20th Century Fox)
Production companies: Fox 2000 Pictures, Walden Media
Cast: Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer
Director: Curtis Hanson, Michael Apted
Screenwriter: Kario Salem
Executive producers: Gerard Butler, Alan Siegel, Georgia Kacandes, David Weil
Producers: Curtis Hanson, Mark Johnson, Brandon Hooper, Jim Meenaghan
Director of photography: Bill Pope
Production designer: Ida Random
Music: Chad Fischer
Costume designer: Sophie De Rakoff
Editor: John Gilbert

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:39 pm

The Rise And Fall Of Gerard Butler: The Curse Of Being Generically Good Looking

After walking out of Chasing Mavericks this week, it’s hard to believe Gerard Butler ever received critical acclaim. That anyone ever watched him on screen and thought he would be the next big thing. Between the script being on a third-grade reading level and the acting being on par with the cast of Real Housewives of New Jersey, I couldn’t believe this movie got produced.

At first I wondered how Gerard Butler got stuck in this movie. After all he’s Gerard Butler, that good-looking actor who’s going to make it any day now. Then I realized we’ve been saying that for years, since we first saw him in 300 back in 2007. We’re now 6 years into any day now and he has yet to do a good film.

PS, I Love You, The Ugly Truth, The Bounty Hunter. It’s like he’s working solely because he one day wants to turn on TBS and know that at least one of his movies will be airing. Which I suppose isn’t the worst goal. It must be a reassuring feeling that you can spend any hungover Sunday sitting on your couch and watching yourself.

But it might not be his fault. I think we may have jumped the gun a little bit acting like he would be the next big male star simply because he had a nice face and a foreign accent. In fact he’s not the first male actor to get trapped in the curse of being generically good looking.

It happens to men in Hollywood all the time. They emerge on the scene as a good-looking guy starring opposite a pretty lady in a rom-com and suddenly everyone’s pegging them as America’s new love. But then they get trapped in an endless cycle of starring opposite Jennifer Aniston and before they know it, they missed the rising star boat and get stuck in mediocre films until the end of time.

Then it’s less about acting for the awards, and more about acting for the paycheck. Does Gerard Butler truly believe Chasing Mavericks was a good movie? I pray not. The script’s so juvenile that I can’t imagine he said these “I love you like you’re my own son” lines and believed what he was saying. But at this point, why not do an easy movie that requires little effort. He didn’t even have to shave for the role!

And if we say Gerard Butler’s off the neverending rising star path to good movies, then who’s up next. How about Ryan Reynolds, another handsome leading man who keeps landing mediocre roles. Or maybe Chris Pine? The newest good looking guy who exudes genericness in his movies. Not to say I didn’t enjoy Definitely, Maybe and People Like Us but those movies didn’t rocket either man into the awards show circuit. Like stock photo models, they’re fun to look at, but extremely interchangeable.

So how can a generic looking guy go from rom-coms to the Oscars? Plastic surgery. They all need something more. Whether it’s Bradley Cooper’s eyes or Ryan Gosling’s aura, they need something to help them stand out. Something that doesn’t make people say, “hey, who’s that guy and what’s he from.”

Then, after a complete physical makeover, they could have a shot at breaking the curse of being generically good looking.

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:46 pm

USA Today Review:

Gerard Butler's 'Chasing Mavericks': A bit of a wipeout

Majestic five-story waves are the stars in a film that should have better served the life of surf legend Jay Moriarity.

USA TODAY review: * * stars out of four; rated PG; opens Friday nationwide

No, this is not a movie about pursuing Sarah Palin.

Chasing Mavericks is about surfin' USA -- specifically some of the biggest breakers on the continent. Mavericks is the name of a huge surf break near Santa Cruz, Calif., reaching up to 25 to 35 feet in peak times. Those waves are the uncontested stars of the movie.

The film is based on the true story of surfing legend Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) and his friendship with Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler in a bushy blond hairdo). Nothing about Chasing Mavericks (* * stars out of four; rated PG; opens Friday nationwide) deviates much from the inspirational sports playbook.

Frosty is Jay's guardian angel in a wetsuit, saving 8-year-old Jay's life when the boy falls into roiling waves. The film skips ahead seven years to Jay as a surfing teen and all-around good kid, whose risk-taking proclivities on surfboards and skateboards don't translate to other areas of his life. He dutifully takes care of his single mom (Elisabeth Shue), making sure her work uniforms are clean and that she's up and ready for work on time. Shue almost literally sleeps through her part. Her character spends half of her screen time passed out in bed, presumably exhausted from work, drunk or depressed.

Unnecessary moments of silly conflict are thrown in for no good reason in the form of some local thugs who refer to Jay as "trash" and uselessly taunt him. There's enough real conflict in Jay's life with an absentee dad and a tuned-out single mom who loses a succession of jobs. Why muck up a good story with forced, small-time obstacles?

Everything centers on Jay's passionate desire to surf the Mavericks surf break, dubbed the Loch Ness Monster of surfing by Frosty for its near-mythic status. But not only are these waves frighteningly real, they're only a few miles from Jay's Santa Cruz home.

When Jay asks Frosty for help training to take on Mavericks, the older surfer initially dismisses him. Cue Frosty's ever-supportive wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer), painted as wise as the Oracle at Delphi. "You just don't get it, do you," Brenda gently chides, explaining to Frosty that fathers come in all guises. And since Jay's dad is AWOL, Frosty has a chance to partially fill that role.

Unfortunately, Chasing Mavericks spends too much time feeling like a watery Karate Kid. In the vein of Pat Morita's "Wax on, wax off," Frosty offers homespun advice that is, not surprisingly, weightier than it appears. He doles out chores that Jay completes without complaining. He even assigns Jay a couple of essays, though Frosty hardly seems like the professorial type. We do, however, get a sense of Jay's unflagging drive.

None of this rings particularly true. Or at the very least it feels embellished for the big screen. No doubt Frosty and Jay had a special friendship, and the older surfer must have offered Jay some useful surfing pointers. But the scenes of assignments, platitudes and exercises grow tedious. When the film heads out to the churning sea, things get more interesting.

Ultimately the story of Jay Moriarity, who died tragically in a diving accident at 22, is a moving one, and he deserved a better tribute than this film, directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted.

With the massive power and mesmerizing curl of the giant waves, Chasing Mavericks is at its best offshore.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:50 pm

Collider Review:


When we invent screenwriting programs that can write a screenplay from start to finish, it will crank out something like Chasing Mavericks. The script is so cynically calculated in its plot beats and character motivations that it’s easy to forget the story is based on a person’s real life. The biopic of surfing prodigy Jay Moriarty comes off as a disservice to his memory as his character, like everyone else in the movie, is one-dimensional and saddled with stilted dialogue. The only times when Mavericks truly comes alive is when it embraces the act of surfing; everything else is a wipeout.

Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) was surfing since he was eight, and at age fifteen, he’s ready for something bigger and more challenging. His neighbor, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler), is a surfing virtuoso who goes on secret jaunts to the California coast to surf “mavericks”, 30-foot-high waves that can destroy inexperienced surfers. Reluctantly, Frosty takes Moriarty on as a protégé only so the bright-eyed, constantly-smiling kid doesn’t get killed trying to conquer the waves. Along the way, Moriarty must deal with his irresponsible mother (Elisabeth Shue), duplicitous “friend” Blond (Devin Crittenden), cartoonish bully Sonny (Taylor Handley), and requisite love-interest Kim (Leven Rambin). Meanwhile, Frosty wrestles with how to be a good father and husband because his parents died when he was young.

No one in the film feels like a real person but simply an item on a checklist. You can almost see screenwriter Kario Salem checking his how-to books, but forgetting to add anything special or take a single risk. We never see much of Moriarty’s home life beyond his screw-up mother, and this qualifies as “back story”. There’s absolutely no reason for Sonny to be in the film, but the rules of screenwriting say Moriarty needs an antagonist. A large part of the problem is that we meet Moriarty, Kim, Blond, and Sonny when they’re all kids, and when the movie jumps ahead seven years, all of them are still acting the same way (Sonny even carries the same baseball bat). With characters written so paper-thin, it’s hard to qualify Chasing Mavericks as a “coming-of-age” story, especially when Moriarty doesn’t change much. He keeps following his dream. Hooray.

It’s never difficult to pin down any character’s motivations, partially because the characters never miss a moment to tell you. In case you couldn’t figure out that there’s a surrogate father-son relationship happening between Frosty and Moriarty, Frosty’s wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) is on hand to let us know. Every moment is painfully announced to the point where you can set your watch to when the second act rising conflict will come about and the main characters will have to deal with their problems before the redemptive third act.

If there’s one thing the script can’t screw up, it’s how directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted along with cinematographers Oliver Euclid and Bill Pope captured the art of surfing. I never had much appreciation for surfing before this film, and Chasing Mavericks has set a high bar. Frosty can saddle Jay with all the Mr. Miyagi crap about four pillars of strength, but we allow that fade into the background as the movie captures the physicality and allure of surfing. The directors and cinematographer make their visuals more than “Big Wave, Tiny Person”. From the first surfing scene of Moriarty taking on a relatively small wave, we see the physical power and agility required to constantly control the board. If there’s any honest respect towards Moriarty’s legacy, it’s in the appreciation of his craft.

Sadly, that’s as far as the appreciation goes. Even if the story hews closely to the events of Moriarty’s life (and I don’t know if it does), the plot beats still feel phony and stiff. Moriarty’s lust for life isn’t so much lusty as it is polite and formal. The telegraphed screenplay is too clunky and rigid to understand the difficulty of human emotions. It’s a shame the film doesn’t have the gracefulness of the surfers it depicts.

Rating: C-

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:36 pm

ABC Review:

‘Chasing Mavericks’ Review: Gerard Butler Shines in Predictable Plot

When we first meet Jay Moriarity, he’s an 8-year-old California boy with a passion for timing ocean waves, but it turns out to be a bit of a dangerous hobby. On this particular day, a friend’s dog chases a ball to the end of the rocks, where the waves meet the shore. As Jay attempts to rescue the dog, he’s swept away by a wave. Good thing Frosty, a surfer played by Gerard Butler, just happens to be nearby. After he rescues Jay, he gives him a ride home to Santa Cruz. Frosty, with his rugged and slightly intimidating veneer, lays into Jay, lecturing him about what just happened, but little Jay disarms Frosty by explaining his passion for timing waves.

Eight years later, Jay, played by relative newcomer Jonny Weston, has become one of the best, if not the best, teen surfer in Santa Cruz. Young as he is, he’s wise beyond his years, thanks in no small part to his relationship with his mother, played by Elizabeth Shue. Mom is barely employed, has trouble getting up for work and borrows money from Jay for various reasons. To complicate matters, her son hasn’t seen or heard from his father in years. Jay craves something more from life, and he’s about to find out what.

Early one morning, Frosty leaves his house, clearly to go surfing. Jay sees Frosty leave and, unbeknownst to his neighbor, he hitches a ride on the back of his van. When they arrive at their destination, Jay can’t believe what he’s seeing. Giant waves — by far, the biggest he’s ever seen. When Frosty and friends conquer those, Jay reveals his presence by cheering his approval from a cliff overlooking the ocean.

If you haven’t guessed, Jay wants to surf these monster waves, called mavericks, but Frosty says no. Jay’s not old enough or strong enough, he says, and Frosty isn’t willing to train him. But this teenager is quite persistent, and so Jay becomes Daniel-san to Frosty’s Mr. Miyagi. Their relationship isn’t anything we haven’t seen before but Butler’s Frosty is compelling and complex. This is one of Butler’s better roles, in fact — he’s so good, you almost feel bad for Weston, because the relative newcomer struggles to hold his own opposite Butler. Fortunately, Weston shines when he’s surfing or when he’s alone, and that helps keep you rooted to the story.

Yes, some of “Chasing Mavericks” is fairly predictable but if you don’t know Jay Moriarity’s story — yes, he was real, already a near legend when barely out of his teens — then the story’s likely not very predictable at all. Even if you are familiar with Moriarity’s story, it shouldn’t negate the emotional impact of the film’s ending.

“Chasing Mavericks” is occasionally lightweight and unnecessarily corny, but it’s also profound and inspirational.

Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:13 am

Shockya Review:

Chasing Mavericks Movie Review

Title: Chasing Mavericks

Director: Michael Apted & Curtis Hanson

Chasing Mavericks is officially labeled a sports-drama. But in reality, it’s The Karate Kid with surfing; or, just an elongated episode of Saved by the Bell.

Gerard Butler is the “Mr. Miyagi” in this telling that takes place in the mid-90s out in Santa Cruz, California. His “Danielson” is Jonny Weston, who plays surfer Jay Moriarity. Butler, known as Frosty, takes Jay under his wing, and prepares him to surf the elusive “maverick” wave. Many people believe these monstrous waves do not exist, as the story compares them to the Lochness Monster. But as 16 year-old Jay finds out after following Frosty around, they are as real as the bacon fried ice-cream.

So the training commences, as the talented young and insanely positive surfer adheres to Frosty’s strict guidelines in preparation to survive this uber-risky ride.

While a good portion of the flick is focusing on Frosty and Jay’s relationship in and out of the water, a few subplots are touched upon via Elizabeth Shue playing Jay’s alcoholic mother, and Abigail Spencer, playing Frosty’s wife. Of the two, Spencer and Butler are far more interesting than Shue’s character. That said, they’re both never fully flushed out and are inserted just to break up the monotony of the basic training sequences in the coastal waters. And then there’s the loose high school love interest on display via Leven Rambin’s “Kim;” and the stereotypical bully angle with an older fellow surfer in Sonny (Taylor Handley). But again, they’re just glossed over and could have easily been edited out for more substantial “life” conversations between the two leads. Frosty’s background could have been explored further, too.

And even though the dialogue is very cookie-cutter like, every now and then a resonating message is projected out. Hence, Saved by the Bell likeness.

That’s pretty much covers the spectrum of what is occurring in this mild sports/bio pic. On the technical side, the capturing of all the surfing action is cool to watch if one is unfamiliar with the sport. Massive waves crashing on the rocks and wiping out surfers does a decent job in showcasing the danger of riding the waves. Last year’s Soul Surfer may have set the standard for cinematically capturing surfing – and had a more compelling story – but this holds up well enough to present a nice leisurely watch, with a notable message/theme. Plus, if you grew up in the ‘90s, the alternative-rock soundtrack provides a smidgen of nostalgia.

Overall, Chasing Mavericks maneuvers a bit choppy on the mechanical side, but the engaged performances by Butler and Weston, along with timely inspiring dialogue, can smooth out the ride.

Technical: B

Story: C+

Acting: B

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:30 am

Review: Chasing Mavericks rides a wave of emotion

MOVIE REVIEW: Chasing Mavericks

Grade: B

Starring: Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer and Cooper Timberline

Directed by: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson

Running time: 117 minutes

The warning: G: No advisory.


They use the word “dude,” and it’s without irony. Think about that for a second.

The whole surfer culture was co-opted so long ago, any brand of surfer-speak now feels suspect post-Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High — especially when mouthed by Hollywood stars such as Keanu Reeves or Patrick Swayze. Worse still, Frankie Avalon.

Indeed, the whole surfer wave has come and gone, come and gone, come and gone. Yet, every once in a while, the right currents and surges spawn a single, maverick wave that is so massive and forceful, to tame it for a second is truly magical.

This is why committed surfers chase mavericks, and it’s this swelling idea of rebirth via frothing curl that powers this new Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson movie based in the real-life story of Jay Moriarty.

A kid who grew up without a dad in Santa Cruz, Calif., Moriarty became an overnight star when his picture hit the cover of Surfer magazine. He was just 16, but he was already chasing mavericks, and the cover shot shows him wiping out at the top of a 40-foot wall of water.

Moriarty was a local legend, but his story of redemption through sport is one of those off-the-rack inspirational cliches: A fatherless kid finds a hero, his passion and personal purpose through mastering the physical challenges presented by a death-defying feat.

It’s a formula as dependable as Rocky and as old as Greek legend, yet Apted (The World is Not Enough) and Hanson (The River Wild, 8 Mile) manage to rise above the debris of deja-vu and create a movie that feels so pure and so honest, it promises to leave both men and women in the audience a little misty.

The central reason for the tag-team’s success lies in the film’s unspoken reverence for surfing, and all the metaphysical abstracts it symbolizes as man uses all the destructive potential within the wave to make himself a better human being.

In many ways, it’s a lot like a martial arts movie, because it’s about learning to respect the force of your “enemy” — which inevitably isn’t the wave, or the villainous ninja, but the fear inside your own heart.

Chasing Mavericks also features a larger-than-life guru who can train young Jay in the ways of the wave warrior and prepare him for the ultimate showdown.

Gerard Butler plays Frosty — a veteran surfer who saved Jay’s life as a kid and eventually introduced him to the legendary breakers up the coast. Frosty is everything a mentor has to be in these manly movies: gruff, quiet and chiselled from slabs of granite.

He doesn’t have any desire to school the young keener with the wide-open eyes and swollen heart. In fact, Frosty already feels like a failure as a father because he loves surfing so much that he’s constantly lying to his saintly wife about where he spends his time.

Fittingly, it’s at her urging that Frosty caves to the kid’s requests and gives him the education he craves.

Whether it’s Sylvester Stallone chasing a chicken, Jackie Chan challenging a drunken master, or Luke Skywalker slinging his lightsaber with Yoda, the student-teacher relationship always has plenty to offer in the screenplay department.

It allows for significant chunks of wisdom to be passed on in tightly edited scenes featuring emotional close-ups and nuanced dialogue.

Chasing Mavericks features all these expected moments. It even gives us a visual chart to monitor Jay’s progress as he learns to paddle and hold his breath.

In short, this is a by-the-numbers exercise, but it still hits emotional pay dirt because we fall in love with Jay from the moment we see him save a puppy.

Relative newcomer Jonny Weston plays Jay with a palpable sense of innocence. Behind those golden curls of hair and ocean-blue eyes, we can sense Jay is a good kid who loves his mother and respects the girl next door.

Weston seems to embody these requisite traits without a hint of slick performance, and because we believe in this kid, we can believe in the rest of the drama — as well as the earnest use of the word “dude.”

The Santa Cruz surfing community saw this story as sacred, and their concerns ensured real members of the surf crowd are depicted on screen.

Legendary big wave riders Zach Wormhoudt, Greg Long and Peter Mel were enlisted to share the screen and the stunt sequences. The producers also hired surf movie editor and mavericks rider Grant Washburn to cut the adrenalin-soaked action scenes.

These details, and this knowledge, bring an extra level of intimacy to the experience and give us a visually stunning peek into the soul of the mavericks-chaser. When we see Jay stand on a board for the first time, the filmmakers communicate the epiphany with little more than an extended point-of-view shot, an ecstatic reaction close-up and the sound of rushing water swirling into a symphony.

This movie wraps its soft hands around the spiritual significance of sport, and in the process, recreates every element of cliché.

There are moments that feel a little too tidy, even overly nostalgic. For instance, the movie is set in the 1990s, but sometimes feels like it’s going for 1970s thanks to all the bulky sweaters and a Radio Shack weather radio, but these are forgivable sins.

The rest of the movie doesn’t feel forced, allowing the viewer to drop into the familiar narrative without fear and ride it all the way home in a happy blur of endorphins and emotional release.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:33 am

Girl on a Board Review:

Chasing Mavericks - Film Review

Negativity, it's just not our thing. We can pretty much find the good in everything in life here at GOAB, and film reviews are no exception, so let's start with the positives about Chasing Mavericks. KK?

First, we were invited! That in and of itself was super rad. Chasing Mav's people - thanks for that! Second, anything that promotes the sport of surfing, that might possibly inspire one girl (or guy) to do something that is so out of their natural comfort zone - that could change their whole lives around - is simply awesome. Period. The film maker's addition of skateboarding scenes was rad and right on, since a Santa Cruz surfing movie without that might not seem so authentic. They used one of our fave songs of all time in the happy-feel-good, albeit sort of expected kids-swimming-in-their-undies pool scene, Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend. The big wave (understatement) surfing scenes were jaw dropping, off the chain, crazy and really amazing. Thanks for not cheaping out and hiring stuntmen that aren't really surfers or just a couple of them. The stuntmen - and women BTW!!! (we noticed Taylor Pitz in the credits!), were sick. Thanks also for casting the role of Jay Moriarity to cutie, Jonny Weston, who actually surfs and skates and not some hack actor who's face is digitally pasted onto a stunt double in every scene.

And now...ahem....on to the not so good stuff. Aside from the fact that there were moments during the film where Lucy Bleu was checking her Facebook page (hey Lucy Bleu - remember when they told us to power down our phones???), cause honestly - it was kind of boring at times, our biggest beef with Chasing Mavericks is that the film makers forgot to capture the JOY of surfing. At times it feels like the sport is really just one, big DRAG! Let's face it - big wave surfing is like attempted suicide and falling off the side of 30 foot building isn't exactly our thing, so we didn't always get it. Frosty Hesson didn't really come off as a very happy person and everyone we know that surfs is pretty damn happy.

But we'll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. We suspect that big wave surfers and adrenaline junkies will find this film very amusing. Definitely worth a Saturday night out though for sure!
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:36 am

Twitch Film Review:

Review: CHASING MAVERICKS Breaks Harmlessly on the Rocks

Featuring the combined efforts of directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, as well as ginormous, gnarly waves, and all the gruff, non-threatening charm that Gerard Butler can muster, Chasing Mavericks is a good-faith effort to dramatize 12 weeks in the life of an apparently flawless young surfer.

Based on a true story, it's clearly intended to be inspirational, following along as teenaged Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) faces one challenge after another, always with a smile on his face and a positive outlook on life. His father walked out on him and his mother Kristy (Elisabeth Shue) when Jay was a boy, around the same time that he was rescued by legendary surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). Fortuituously, Jay wants to be a surfer, and Frosty lives across the street in the coastal town of Santa Cruz, California, and so an unofficial father/son bond is formed, at least in Jay's eyes.

The film begins with the ocean rescue, staying with the time period long enough to establish the key players, before jumping forward seven years. Jay is now a surfer with exceptional skills; he is now best friends with Blond (Devin Crittenden), the kid who gave him his first surfing lesson; he still pines for the lovely Kim (Leven Rambin); he still gets bullied by the jealous Sonny (Taylor Handley); his mother is still troubled; and good neighbor Frosty still gruffly keeps him at arm's length.

One night, Jay discovers Frosty's big secret: the existence of the legendary Mavericks, giant waves so high and huge that only a few surfers in the world can ride them and live to tell the tale. Jay immediately sets his heart on surfing the Mavericks, but Frosty sternly rebuffs his entreaties, until Frosty's warm-hearted, lovingly supportive wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) finally breaks it down for her husband.

Brenda explains to Frosty that, like it or not, Jay looks up to him as a father figure. Despite being a father of two, Frosty is still coming to terms with the responsibilities of parenthood, due to lingering issues from his own childhood. Thanks to kindly nudging from Brenda, however, Frosty realizes he needs to take a more active role, both with his own children and with Jay.

Thus begins Jay's season of intense education. Weather conditions for the giants waves mean that Jay only has 12 weeks to meet Frosty's four basic requirements to surf the Mavericks, so the kid must buckle down and develop the physical strength, mental agility, emotional stability, and spiritual aptitude to tackle the greatest challenge of his young life.

Even without any pre-awareness of the real-life Jay Moriarity, the story will feel incredibly familiar. Kario Salem's screenplay, with a story credited to Jim Meenaghan and Brandon Hooper, quickly falls into the well-worn "inspirational sports story" sub-genre rut, presenting a series of challenges that our hero must overcome with great humanity and humility, and always with a grace that belies his tender years. The ending is hardly in question.

chasing-mavericks-photo-01.jpgThe giant waves are, indeed, astonishing to contemplate, as they have been in countless movies for the past few decades, but they are not inherently compelling to watch in a narrative sense. The characterizations and storytelling, then, become the focus, and directors Hanson and Apted fall short in bringing anything fresh to their stylistic approach; neither are they able to draw out performances that suggest much depth. (Hanson, it should be noted, began the project and completed much of the principal photography before complications from heart surgery sidelined him, at which point Apted came on board and finished the final 15 days or so of production.) Considering Hanson's record of flushing out fascinating angles on familiar subjects, this is especially disappointing.

Butler is gruff enough and sufficiently charming to fulfill the requirements of his role, but he has no one to play against: both his wife Brenda and protege Jay are saintly creatures, which surely made them pleasant companions in real life, but, again, of limited interest in a dramatic feature, even in an inspirational drama. One suspects that Jay's mother is hiding some emotional baggage that needs to be unpacked, but the film is reluctant to explore their relationship, beyond suggesting that Jay has become more of a parent than his mother.

The core "problem" may simply be Jay himself, or, rather, the manner in which the filmmakers portray the legend. He is treated with such reverence and awe that he comes across as too perfect; it's easier to sympathize with his longtime friend Blond and semi-nemesis Sonny, imperfect beasts who both resent his superiority.

Jay can't help being superior, but Chasing Mavericks kept reminding me of a brief moment in James L. Brooks' Broadcast News, in which shallow yet highly successful William Hurt asks, "What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?" Highly talented yet much less successful Albert Brooks replies, "Keep it to yourself."

In the film, Jay Moriarity's extraordinary real life exceeds his modest dreams. But it may be that his legend might have been better served with a documentary, in which other people could testify as to how he inspired them, instead of a tepidly-dramatized feature that keeps nudging us to say, "Isn't he great?"
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:40 am

L.A. Times Review:,0,7546671.story

Movie review: In 'Chasing Mavericks,' surf's up, film's flat
The spectacular footage of the massive waves of Half Moon Bay ultimately prove far more involving than the overwrought story of true surfing legend Jay Moriarity.

By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic

October 25, 2012, 3:52 p.m.

The killer waves in "Chasing Mavericks" are the thing to watch, the only thing to watch. They are angry waves, monsters — with lots of attitude and undertow. If only the rest of the film had followed in their wake. The story, and even the surfing, just don't hold water against their crushing presence or fierce beauty.

Starring Gerard Butler, newcomer Jonny Weston and other beachy types, "Chasing Mavericks" is based on the true story of surfing wunderkind Jay Moriarity (Weston). He lived a short but meaningful life, making his name by surfing, and surviving, the infamous Mavericks surf break at California's Half Moon Bay. Success came early, at 16, and death as well — a free-diving accident off the Maldives when he was about to turn 23. By that point Moriarity had become a major figure in the surfing world, known as much for his winning smile as his exceptional athleticism.

The story, by Jim Meenaghan and Brandon Hooper, molded into a screenplay by Kario Salem, focuses on Moriarity's early obsession with the sport, his preparation to take on the big waves and his first-time try at the Mavericks. Even though it was a wipeout, the moment gave the teenager an impressive start. Caught by photographers and splashed across surfing publications everywhere, he became an overnight sensation.

The film, which started under the direction of Curtis Hanson, with Michael Apted stepping in when Hanson became ill, suffers from a serious unevenness from the first frame to the last. In fact, "Mavericks" is so far from either director's best work — Hanson's "L.A. Confidential" or "The River Wild," Apted's "Coal Miner's Daughter" or "Gorillas in the Mist" — it's hard to find their imprint at all.

The footage itself, particularly of the surf, is spectacular, with veteran cinematographer Bill Pope handling the camerawork. But the drama is soggy, overreaching for the heartfelt and overdoing the inspirational. The "Live Like Jay" mantra, which honors Moriarity's indomitable spirit, never rings with the kind of emotional truth it actually carries in the world of competitive surfing and around his hometown of Santa Cruz.

As "Chasing Mavericks" chronicles, by all accounts Moriarity was a decent kid with a difficult start. After his dad left, his mom, played by Elisabeth Shue, spent most of her time drunk and depressed — at least in the film's telling. As a teenager, Jay found a sense of purpose in riding the big waves and a surrogate father figure in an irascible older surfing dude named Frosty (Butler). For some human conflict, there is a local tough (Taylor Handley) who's been specializing in bullying him since grade school. And on the romantic front, there is Kim (Leven Rambin), the girl he got a crush on at 9 and would eventually marry.

Weston definitely looks the part of young surfer dude on the rise — blond and bronzed with startling blue eyes. Though he is better in his scenes with Rambin, the first-time actor struggles, particularly opposite the dominating presence of Butler. Meanwhile, Shue, a fine actress who more than proved in "Leaving Las Vegas" that she knows how to finesse a drunk scene, is seriously wasted here (as in ill-used). Most of her time is spent passed out on the bed, with Jay left to make the dinners, wash the clothes and wake her up when she oversleeps, which is all the time.

As for Butler, "Chasing Mavericks" seems to continue the trend of roles that have the actor saving whatever world he happens into. His best performances thus far are rooted in ancient times — leading the Spartans into that doomed battle in 2006's "300," running the resistance in Ralph Fiennes' update of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" in 2011. The rest of the lot, including last year's "Machine Gun Preacher," haven't been a good fit despite, or perhaps because of, all their do-gooding intentions. "Chasing Mavericks" falls into the "Machine Gun" category of disappointments — at best it's a wash.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:01 am

"Chasing Mavericks" Review: surfing saga wipes out on dry land

LOS ANGELES ( - Regarding legendary MGM bathing beauty Esther Williams, producer Joe Pasternak once famously quipped, "Wet, she's a star."

So it goes with "Chasing Mavericks," a biopic that features not enough stirringly gorgeous surfing footage and way too many clunky biopic clichés in telling the story of surf legend Jay Moriarity. With a storyline as by-the-numbers as a square dance, the movie's one surprise comes with the closing credits - namely, that this trite "inspirational" movie is the product of two world-class filmmakers, Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted.

After a prologue in which eight-year-old Jay, already obsessed with the big waves, is rescued from drowning by his ten-hanging neighbor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler), we meet our lead character at age 15 and played by Jonny Weston. A talented young surfer, Jay sneaks off one morning and watches Frosty tackle Mavericks, a giant super-wave thought by many to be the stuff of legend.

Once he sees Mavericks, Jay has found his Mt. Everest, and he won't rest until he can conquer it. He begs Frosty to train him, and so begins a 12-week course that will include the physical (paddling from Santa Cruz to Monterey, learning to go four minutes without breathing) and the mental (Jay writes essays for Frosty about observing the tides and conquering personal demons).

Naturally, the surf lessons become life lessons, whether it's about taking a step back and finding the easy way through a situation or distinguishing the difference between fear (a good thing) and panic (not so much). Kario Salem's screenplay ticks off the character development in the most predictable way possible; when Jay reveals early on that he has an unopened latter from the father who abandoned him as a child, we know that envelope's going to be torn open in the final act.

Because of his positive attitude and many achievements at a relatively young age, Jay Moriarity became a legend in the surf world. Unfortunately, that mantle anchors the film - rather than portray Jay as the complex and interesting person he no doubt was, the movie reduces him to a paragon. Constantly upbeat and crowned in a halo of blond curls, Weston has nothing to play that can make Jay anything but a blank, shiny ideal.

Butler may still be grappling with his American accent, but at least Frosty has a flaw or two that give the actor something to do. The women in the film are handed even less to work with, stuck playing The Girlfriend (Leven Rambin) or The Boozy Mom Who Suddenly Isn't Boozy Anymore (Elisabeth Shue). Abigail Spencer, as Frosty's wife, gets some relatively complex moments, but even she is saddled with the requisite "Please don't go surf Mavericks tonight, honey" speech.

None of the film's many flaws matter when Jay or Frosty hops on a board and swims out to the waves. If the surfing scenes are real, then they're breathtaking; if they're faked, then they've been faked brilliantly. But for that, better to rent "The Endless Summer" or "Step Into Liquid" so you can cut right to the good stuff without having to wade through all the personal-growth and surrogate-family bushwa that "Chasing Mavericks" handles so badly.

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:23 am

Austin Chronicle Review:

Chasing Mavericks
Rated PG, 143 min. Directed by Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson. Starring Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Greg Long, Peter Mel, Zach Wormhoudt, Leven Rambin, Taylor Handley.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

An inspirational surfing drama that somehow fails to inspire – despite a strong cast and two top-notch directors – Chasing Mavericks details the relationship between 15-year-old Jay Moriarty (Weston) and his reluctant wave-riding mentor, Frosty Hesson (Butler). Based on true events, and featuring a number of famous surf rats rounding out the cast, this should, by all rights, be a triumphal crowd-pleaser, but the film flails around emotionally every time it exits the water for the landlocked, single-parent, missing-dad genericness that makes up the body of the storyline.

The mavericks of the title are the fabled monster waves spawned, as it turns out, by El Niño, and no one wants to learn to ride them more than young Jay. But before he can do that, he has to convince surly surfer Frosty to be his own personal Mr. Miyagi, keep his alcoholic mom (Shue) sober enough to get to work on time, and master the “four pillars.” Very Karate Kid, no? Yes, very. Although it may seem a disservice to the real Moriarty (who died young) and Hesson, Chasing Mavericks feels far less spectacular than it should. That’s not the fault of cinematographers Oliver Euclid and Bill Pope – who use every trick in the book to show the epic magnificence of the mighty Pacific – but rests squarely at the feet of screenwriter Kario Salem, who goes for maudlin melodrama over the visceral vibe of the surfers and their Zen-like devotion to the sport.

If you’ve seen the 2006 Nick Nolte vehicle Peaceful Warrior, then you’ve pretty much already seen this. Capturing the essence of surfing – or any sport, for that matter – is more often than not a fool’s errand. A more fitting tribute to Moriarty’s legacy? Go buy a board and hit the deep blue yourself.

2 1/2 Stars

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:45 am

NY Times Review:

Surf’s Up, but the Rest of Life Can Really Drag a Guy Down
‘Chasing Mavericks,’ by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted
John P. Johnson/20th Century Fox

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air’s salubrity,” Emerson once advised. It’s a path embraced by the wetsuit warriors in “Chasing Mavericks,” a surfing movie about men, water and waves, and how and why they sometimes come together beautifully and sometimes collide with terrifying force. The movie, directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, is based on the true story of a Santa Cruz-area surfer, Rick Hesson, entertainingly nicknamed Frosty — welcome to California, people! — who back in the day helped shape a legend-to-be: Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston), a boy with a dream and a battered board.

What Jay wanted to do was conquer the surf break known as Mavericks, home of killing, crushing, gorgeous monster waves that surge and crash near the coastal city of Half Moon Bay, 30 miles south of San Francisco. To judge from all the big-wave surfing movies, YouTube clips, books, blogs, competitions and dollars now in circulation, he was part of a vanguard. What entices these surfers and looky-loos to Mavericks are waves that become behemoths topping 50 feet, giants that owe their size to long swells, the continental shelf, fault lines, reef beds, storms and shallow water. According to lore, the surf break is named after a German shepherd, Maverick. He would follow the surfers who frequented the area in the early ’60s and, like them, didn’t tackle its biggest waves.

That history hovers in “Chasing Mavericks” as the macramé-and-chakra backdrop for a resolutely old-school tale, by turns seductive and cornball, about a master, a young grasshopper and the Way of the Wave. Its hero journey spans seven years and begins in 1987 with Frosty (Gerard Butler, with taciturn appeal) plucking the young Jay (a sweet Cooper Timberline) from the ocean after the boy, who likes to time waves from the shore, accidentally tumbles in.

Frosty makes a living in construction, but his identity, his being, is wholly wrapped up in surfing. It’s who he is, to the gentle consternation of his wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer, looking like a hippie Sarah Silverman). He has children, she reminds him, responsibilities. Ms. Spencer beams brightly in a hackneyed role that’s part saint, part bummer.

As his handle suggests, Frosty isn’t the warmest savior, though he melts soon enough, done in by the boy’s yearning. This longing initially revolves around surfing and provides some of the movie’s most appealing scenes, including ones of Jay hurtling into the waves on a board held together with duct tape. Seven years later, and the boy is a teenager slaloming down waves and played by the eager Mr. Weston. (His short blond ’fro and somewhat distressingly happy-vacant stare may induce flashbacks to William Katt and that classic of surfer movies, “Big Wednesday.”) Jay lives to surf, though he also works hard both at a pizzeria and at home, where he tends to his inattentive, often bedridden and depressed mother, Kristy (Elisabeth Shue).

She’s a downer, but “Chasing Mavericks” is emphatically upbeat. (It’s a co-production of Walden Media, which is in the inspiration business.) When the movie works, its buoyancy can be infectious and persuasive, particularly in the surfing scenes and in the mesmerizing shots of the heaving, churning ocean and waves.

The movie captures the hypnotic quality of this watery landscape, with its steel blue undulations and the Freudian oceanic feeling it summons. It invites you to gaze into this watery abyss, to ponder its mysteries as well as those of the swimmer whose image brackets the movie and evokes John F. Kennedy’s observation: “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.”

So, keep your eyes on the waves, just like the watermen in “Chasing Mavericks,” whose numbers include the surfers Greg Long, Peter Mel and Zach Wormhoudt, who show up briefly to lend it authenticity and genuine cool. The surfers and the surfing, along with the natural beauty of the California coastline, help balance the movie’s weak areas, including its lamentably one-dimensional protagonist. (Mr. Apted took over the last 15 days of shooting, after Mr. Hanson left the production for health reasons, which may help explain the movie’s unevenness.)

When he isn’t surfing, the fictionalized Jay tends to drag the story down, whether he’s smiling moonily at Frosty, the ocean or one of the women in his life. He nearly sinks a story that the real Jay Moriarity surfed into legend.

“Chasing Mavericks” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). Children may want to move to California to become surfers.

Chasing Mavericks

Opens on Friday nationwide.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:52 am

Time Review:

Chasing Mavericks: Looking For That Big Break

Those of us who love the surfing movie genre tend to have forgiving standards. We’re there primarily for the drama on the ocean, not whatever drama is happening on shore. Like Patrick Swayze, we were into Point Break for the “100 percent pure adrenaline rush;” Keanu Reeves’ undercover FBI investigation was just the motor that drove us to the beach. From Gidget onward the viewer has tended to pay for the vicarious thrill of being up close and personal with the waves (and often, body doubles for the stars) by enduring dialogue along the lines of “these waves are for the big boys.” That’s from Blue Crush and quite possibly half the surfing movies ever made, where someone is always telling the hero or heroine they’re in over their head.

The imminently forgivable surfing drama Chasing Mavericks, which is based on a true story, is about some very big waves, the biggest in California, and a boy named Jay Moriarity (Johnny Weston) who dreamed of riding them. The movie aims to be inspirational and for the most part it is, in much the same bittersweet way as the baseball movie The Rookie. It’s too poetically inclined to talk about adrenaline rushes (even while serving up a few) although it doesn’t entirely escape the cliches. “Untrained boys don’t just step into the ring with Mike Tyson,” Santa Cruz surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) growls when the 15-year-old Jay begs Frosty to take him to Mavericks. The surfing spot is a legend, a place where a winter’s northwest swell can build 50-foot waves, but in 1994, at the time the story takes place, its location just north of Half Moon Bay was still a closely held secret among local surfers.

Naturally the curmudgeon caves and agrees to train the boy, who is already a gifted surfer, a ballet dancer on a board. Weston, a Christopher Atkins look-alike who does most of his own surfing (as did Butler, who is trim and fit as a fiddle) seems like a natural, reaching out easily to affectionately touch the inside curve of a wave, as if it were a friendly elephant at the zoo. Co-directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted (who finished the film after Hanson had a health crisis) focus on the deepening relationship between Frosty and Jay as the training unfolds. Frosty sets physical goals for Jay—hold your breath for four minutes, eat well, be able to paddle a 36-mile distance from Santa Cruz to a point in Monterey—as well as spiritual and intellectual exercises, including writing essays on topics like “fear” and learning what Frosty calls “the four pillars of life.”

I believe that Frosty’s first pillar has to do with observation, the second with fear being healthy and panic deadly, but I confess that, in spite of a measured, convincing performance by Butler, I lost track of the other pillars and can only tell you they are noble, sensible and Oprah-esque. Jay doesn’t seem to need instruction on decency though. He’s depicted as having a deadbeat dad and being raised by a single mom (Elisabeth Shue) from the age of 8, but he doesn’t drink or do drugs or chase girls (he’s too busy gazing longingly at his childhood best friend Kim, played by the stunning Leven Rambin, aka, Glimmer from The Hunger Games). He’s helpful to his slatternly mother, dumping her booze down the drain and waking her for work in the morning (“You’re going to lose your job again”). When other kids sneer and call him “little trash” or refer to Frosty disparagingly as his “rent-a-Daddy,” Jay just smiles calmly and turns his hopeful blue eyes to the always-welcoming sea.

By all accounts, the real Jay Moriarity, who got famous in the surfing world after surviving an epic wipeout at Mavericks, was just as zen, although Chasing Mavericks puts some Hollywood gloss on his and Frosty’s story. The movie Frosty has Jay on a 12-week training program for Mavericks; in reality Hesson trained Moriarity for two years. Moriarity’s iconic tumble, the one that landed him at 16, tiny atop a monster wave and poised to fall, on the cover of Surfer magazine, took place eight months after he’d started surfing Mavericks; in the movie it happens on his very first big wave.

In interviews the real Frosty, who wrote a book about Mavericks, seems a jovial sort—he happily trained many young surfers, not just Jay. My hunch is that Frosty’s movie moodiness may be amped up to maximize the tension as to whether he’ll keep training Jay or not. At times the character is a little baffling, particularly his avoidance of his own children, which his saintly wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer, daughter of famed surfer Yancy Spencer) is always gently chiding him about. But much of the drama that swirls around these characters, including one untimely and unexpected death, is true to life. (I thought oh come on, they must have made that up.) When one of Frosty’s surfing buddies, all played by real Mavericks stalwarts, surveys the pummeling surf and warns gloomily that “Someone’s going to die out there,” it may seem overly dramatic, but champion surfer Mark Foo did die at Mavericks just a few days after Moriarity’s crazy ride.

Chasing Mavericks may treat its characters with a little too much reverence, but it gives its titular subject its awe-inspiring due. When we finally see Mavericks in full churn, the waves tower and crash impressively. Our proximity to them is breathtaking; look for a shot where a sizable boat nearly gets swamped by a wave. But the edits and cuts required to keep the focus on a character mean you’re never quite getting the visual whole you long for. Watching Jay catch waves, there’s a terrifying angle, the sea seems a whirlpool, then suddenly there he is, paddling through something that seems almost placid. Then there’s the jarring, meanwhile-back-on-shore static shot of Butler holding binoculars and looking anxious. Every surfing feature film is a bit of a tease; those in search of verisimilitude would do better to rent a documentary like Riding Giants. (Or go surfing themselves.) But Chasing Mavericks is still a sweet ride worth catching.

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:59 am

Aint It Cool News Review:

Capone was genuinely surprised how much of the Curtis Hanson-Michael Apted co-directed CHASING MAVERICKS actually works!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

I'll admit, I walked into this docudrama about the relationship between a 15-year-old fatherless Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) and his surfing legend neighbor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) in Santa Cruz, California, slightly skeptical. But as the film went on, I found myself getting drawn into this decidedly non-surfer-dude telling of this story of a man who basically adopts the neighbor kid and teaches him discipline and maturity through surfing lessons, preparing him to surf the legendary surf break known as Mavericks, home to what are believed to be the largest waves on the planet.

And by the end of the film, I was surprised how strong a narrative CHASING MAVERICKS was supporting. I got even more of a shock when I saw that the film was co-directed by Michael Apted (GORILLAS IN THE MIST, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) and Curtis Hanson (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, 8 MILE), two solid filmmakers who get the help of some real-life surfing types and a great deal of astonishing surf/wave footage I've ever seen outside of surfing documentaries.

What becomes clear early on in CHASING MAVERICKS is that Frosty is not just teaching Jay how to surf the toughest waves imaginable; he's also teaching him to survive in the world and preparing him to live life as a man, since there isn't a father in his life, and his alcoholic mother (Elisabeth Shue) can barely take care of herself. Frosty's wife Brenda (Abigail Spencer) and he have basically taken Jay into their home, and apparently part of growing up a little faster than most kids his age involves Jay starting up a relationship with a fellow high schooler, Kim (Leven Rambin).

While the lessons taught and learned in the film are about following your dreams, Frosty makes sure that Jay does not enter into this endeavor blindly. Imagine the lessons taught by Mr. Miyagi in THE KARATE KID, and then imagine that if you screw up during the training, you might actually die. But there are other teachings as well that focus on mental abilities and collecting one's thoughts. Jay must write essays about the things that matter to him, things he observes, and things that move him. Jay is no thrill seeker with a death wish; he's a solid student willing to put in his time until his instructor says that he's ready for Mavericks. You'd think the kid was almost boring, until the final act of the film when he hits the waves.

There's a bittersweet epilogue to CHASING MAVERICKS, but it doesn't take away from the emotions and inspirational message the film delivers with subtlety. I was especially impressed with Butler's dialed-back performance as a man who has seen many of his own dreams fall flat, and refuses to see that happen to a fellow surfer while he's still so young. The film isn't perfect; it manufactures a villain for Jay to overcome—a generic high school bully. Those scenes add absolutely nothing to the film's strengths, but they don't hard it too much either. I think you'll actually be pleasantly surprised how much of CHASING MAVERICKS gets to the core of growing up and taking responsibility, even as the lead character engages in one of the most dangerous challenges imaginable.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:03 am

Cinema Blend Review:

Chasing Mavericks

Sports movies almost always work better when there’s a clear enemy. Miracle has the Soviets. Happy Gilmore has Shooter McGavin. Caddyshack has Judge Smails, and Chasing Mavericks should have a huge, deadly wave. Unfortunately, it has huge deadly waves and a drunk mom and a girl who isn’t really giving the main character the time of day and a drug dealer who wants to start shit and a friend who is kind of drifting away. There’s just way too much going on. It’s not Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston) vs. nature. It’s Jay Moriarty vs. all of the problems in his life, of which, waves are far from the most important. Consequently, a film that should be about building to one giant thrill is about continually going down bunny hills.

That desire to try and encapsulate everything is a common pitfall for a film based on a real set of events. It’s difficult to streamline everything enough to properly build momentum and a sensible focus, and ordinarily, that lack of direction is enough to sink a film. Like its main character, however, Chasing Mavericks has a determined heart and a lovability about it. With charisma, energy and plenty of truly impressive surfing shots, it’s able to work through each of those plot mistakes and ultimately become an enjoyable few hours spent in the sun.

Born to a mother (Elizabeth Shue) who is an unreliable drunk and a father who didn’t bother sticking around, our hero has to worry about problems like where the rent is going to come from and whether he’ll need to give up his room to a boarder to help keep the lights on. To escape, he takes his friend Kim (Leven Rambin) out to the ocean and counts the seconds between the waves. The water is his peace, and as he ages and begins dealing with Kim drifting away and a douche bag drug dealer who thinks he’s too happy all the time, he plunges further into the world of surfing. At first, small waves are enough of a challenge, but eventually, danger is a prerequisite.

That’s where Frosty (Gerard Butler) comes in. A roofer who wakes up early and rides maverick waves, the married father takes Jay under his wing and teaches him about life and the water. He’s already stood at the top of deadly waves and plunged beneath the surface with little hope of survival. He’s conquered the fears within his own soul, and in Jay, he finds the son and the friend he’s always wanted. Together, they train to surf the deadly waves flowing into California thanks to El Nino and together, they work through every unexpected lefthand turn they encounter on their way to the beach.

Much of Chasing Mavericks’ runtime takes place in the water. Whether sitting atop boards and talking or actually surfing, it was imperative the ocean shots were done properly, and what is achieved is nothing short of spectacular. Butler and Weston do the majority of their own stunts, and when professionals take their place, the proper angles are chosen so the audience never knows the difference. It’s very skillfully handled, and all involved make as believable surfers as they do human beings.

That’s the strange thing about Chasing Mavericks. The acting is top notch. Butler is solid as usual and for a kid who doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page, Jonny Weston is better than anyone could have hoped for. The cinematography is great. The writing contains a few well-crafted scenes. In a vacuum, it’s all somewhere between good and very good, but together, it just doesn’t completely work. There’s too much. It needs to be scaled back twenty percent. Either the drug dealer needs to be cut, or his mom needs to be less of a mess, or his friend needs to not have a drug problem. It would need another thirty minutes to justify all these sideplots, and since it doesn’t have it, every moment spent on the periphery of Jay’s life feels like a moment where he should have been training to surf the big wave.

There are plenty of mistakes to be found here, but there are also moments to cheer. There are smiles to be had and a sense of wonder to be appreciated. Whether those positives can just as easily be experienced in the comfort of your own home in six months probably depends on how nice the picture is on your television.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:09 am

NY Post Review:

‘Chasing Mavericks’ is best when it sticks to surfing


Schmaltz on the rocks. Running time: 116 minutes. Rated PG (perilous action, alcoholism). At the Empire, the Kips Bay, others.
* *

I try to avoid spoilers in reviews, but it’s only fair to warn parents that the supposedly inspirational, family-friendly, fact-based and often sappy “Chasing Mavericks’’ ends with the main character’s memorial service.

A title card informs us that surfing legend Jay Moriarty drowned while diving (alone) at the age of 22, and in the film we see him repeatedly engaging in potentially lethal surfing off the California coast before his 16th birthday.

We’re eventually told Jay’s boozy single mom (Elisabeth Shue) is aware that he’s had his girlfriend forge the mother’s signature to a “permission slip,’’ but still, you might not want the kids trying this at home.

Jay’s chief enabler is his neighbor, surrogate dad and daredevil surfer Frosty Hesson, played by Scottish actor Gerard Butler with an amusing American accent that makes him sound like he gargled with scotch before each take.

It’s 1994, and Frosty discovers that teenage Jay (played at this point by Jonny Weston, whose best acting is done in the water) has stowed away atop his truck to watch Frosty and his pals surf massive waves in a secret spot called Mavericks.

Frosty’s wife (Abigail Spencer) convinces her husband it’s his obligation to teach Jay how to survive these waves, because if he doesn’t, Jay will just try to do this himself with tragic results.

Thus, Frosty becomes Jay’s Mr. Miyagi, lecturing his young charge about his philosophy of surfing while they spend so many hours in the water together that you wonder why someone doesn’t call children’s services.

Why two stars? The surfing sequences are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a film, and the re-creation of Jay’s climactic battle to ride El Nino-driven waves is real white-knuckle stuff.

But neither Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”) nor the fellow veteran director who replaced him when Hanson took ill, Michael Apted (“Gorillas in the Mist’’), can do much with the hokey sequences on land.

Jay works in a pizzeria to help support his mom, falls in love with a beautiful girl he will later (briefly) marry, helps a pal who is tempted by drugs and is taunted by a wealthy bully straight out of “The Karate Kid.’’

At least the makers of that film were able to provide a happy ending — unlike that of “Chasing Mavericks.’’
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:02 am

Vulture Review:

Chasing Mavericks: This Surfing Movie Is Point Blah

Chasing Mavericks is the real-life story of Jay Moriarty (Jonny Weston), a surfing prodigy from Santa Cruz who made waves (ahem) in 1994 when, at the age of 16, he seemingly came out of nowhere to surf the legendary Mavericks, a particularly dangerous Northern Pacific break known for massive crests of up to 80 feet. The film informs us that Moriarty didn’t actually appear out of thin air: Instead, he was coached, with Mr. Miyagi–like steeliness, by “Frosty” Hesson (Gerard Butler), a gruff, demanding older surfer and neighbor who taught the boy all about stamina, observation, and mental discipline. In turn, Jay taught the embittered, disillusioned Frosty about perseverance and family. It’s a perfect fortune cookie of a movie, full of bland life lessons for everybody; would that there were some drama or style in it somewhere along the way.

Amazingly, the stiff, barely functional direction here comes courtesy of Curtis Hanson (L.A Confidential, Wonder Boys) and Michael Apted (Thunderheart, Coal Miner’s Daughter), two veteran, Oscar-nominated filmmakers who regularly do fine work. But they thrive in the realm of the literal: Both directors tend to be good with dialogue and sharply drawn characters, and what Chasing Mavericks needs, and lacks, is poetry. “We all come from the sea. But we are not of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again,” Butler’s voice-over intones at the beginning, suggesting that we’re about to get a film about the relentless, haunting fascination of the sea — the way its mystery can intrude on our little lives. What we get instead are mostly characters going through telegraphed journeys.

Even so, there are occasional glimpses here of the film that might have been. Early on, Frosty stands outside his home at night and, seeing his wife dealing with their newborn, walks away and avoids them; meanwhile, Jay comes home to find that his dad has left and his mom is lying in bed, a bottle by her side. (Mom is played by Elisabeth Shue, who is wasted by this film in more ways than one.) The building blocks are generic, but the juxtaposition of them clever: The older man fears responsibility and a stable family life, while the young boy wishes he could have one. They will eventually become, we realize, father figures for one another. But the script (by Kario Salem) doesn’t quite follow through on that setup, relying instead on boilerplate plot points. Jay lives through his side of a half-baked love triangle, deals with the usual bullies, and tut-tuts at his best friend’s drug habit.

At the very least, you would think that the film would find a way to contrast the petty agony of this life with the elemental wonder of the waves. After all, the sea has always had a pull on certain filmmakers’ imaginations: Luc Besson’s free-diving epic The Big Blue gave its characters’ deadly obsession with the deep a sensuous, seductive quality, while John Milius’s Big Wednesday turned surfing into a search for a Zen constant in a world gone haywire. Meanwhile, Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break and John Stockwell’s Blue Crush used the freewheeling, amped-up energy of the surfing subculture to fuel their respective story lines. But Chasing Mavericks rarely integrates its mundane reality with transcendental awe. The imagery by veteran cinematographer Bill Pope is often picturesque, but rarely suspenseful (though we do get some terrific stunts during a climactic wave-riding sequence).

The acting doesn’t help much, either. Butler is good at glaring, but when he speaks, he sounds like a caricature of a grizzled hard-ass. And with his all-American blandness, Weston (who looks like the secret love child of Kirk Cameron and The Blue Lagoon’s Christopher Atkins) has the opposite problem: He’s earnest but stiff. With all due respect to the memory of the real Jay Moriarty (who died tragically at the age of 21), this film’s version of him could just as easily be a promising basketball player or a spelling-bee champ. He’s merely an off-the-rack movie teen with a big, prefab dream.
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:18 pm

Screenrant Review:

'Chasing Mavericks’ Review
by Sandy Schaefer

Chasing Mavericks is a coming-of-age/inspirational sports drama based on the true story of surfer Jay Moriarity, who is brought to life as a bright-eyed 15-year old by Jonny Weston. Gerard Butler costars as Frosty Hesson, a crusty and curly-haired surfer who has conquered the Mavericks (a California surfing location north of Santa Cruz in Half Moon Bay, which boasts waves upwards of 60-70 feet) and agrees to mentor young Jay about the ‘Tao of Surfing,’ in order to prepare him to take on the mighty Mavericks.

Oscar-winner Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) directed Chasing Mavericks – with assistance from Michael Apted (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), who took over after Hanson fell ill part-way through production on the non-surfing portions of the film. Second unit director Philip Boston (who helmed the surfing documentary Billabong Odyssey) oversaw the six-months of shooting that proved necessary to properly capture Mavericks’ waves in motion.

Chasing Mavericks comes fully alive when the setting shifts to the ocean, beginning with the ‘spiritual awakening’ of 8-year-old Jay (Cooper Timberline) when, by sheer providence, he is saved from a watery grave by Hesson (who calls it dumb luck); subsequent scenes with mature Jay soaring high on the tide likewise pack a strong visceral punch. Similarly, the teacher-student dynamic at the film’s core feels most authentic when set against the backdrop of the immense liquid abyss, allowing the more cliché moments (see: when Frosty discusses his ‘quirky’ techniques with Jay, such as his ‘Four Pillars of the Human Foundation’ thesis) to sound like more than a screenwriter’s invention.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the aforementioned filmmakers – as well as the directors of photography Bill Pope (The Matrix trilogy) and Oliver Euclid – these off-shore sequences offer instances of pure visual poetry, heart-pounding exhilaration, and even some genuine tension during the inevitable climax, pitting Jay against the Mavericks at its mightiest (thanks to El Niño). Furthermore, it allows for all those surfing novices in the audience (like myself) to better comprehend how the aquatic sport can offer someone a experience both nerve-shattering and serene.

However, it’s in the non-surfing portions that Chasing Mavericks begins to crumble. The narrative does not proceed naturally between plot points; instead, they align in a manner that either comes off as contrived (for instance, Jay’s father abandoned him as a child, while Frosty is insecure about his ability to be a good parent) or end up feeling a bit pointless. The best example of the latter is a story thread wherein Jay’s longtime friend Blond (Devin Crittenden) buys drugs and befriends the film’s bland ‘antagonist’ – a bully named Sonny (Taylor Handley) – which culminates with a turn-of-events that has a muddled-to-trivial effect on the plot. However, there is also an egregious second-act twist (which I won’t spoil) that comes off as unearned at best, overly-manipulative at worst.

Unfortunately, the script for Chasing Mavericks (written by Kario Salem, with story credit going to Brandon Hooper and Jim Meenaghan) also lets its supporting cast down. Crittenden and Handely, as mentioned before, are stuck with stock material; the same goes for Leven Rambin (All My Children) as the thinly-drawn love interest Kim, whose character arc travels a predictable route. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Shue plays an under-developed variation on the ‘messed-up single-mom’ archetype (she tackled a similar part in last month’s House at the End of the Street), while Abigail Spencer (Mad Men) as Frosty’s wife Brenda has little to do but offer words of wisdom and explain other characters’ backstories (literally).

Weston and Butler, as it were, both deliver fine performances, given what the two have to work with. Jay is sketched as an almost-angelic surfer-phile at times, but Weston makes him believable enough; it’s an idyllic portrayal of a real person, but it fits with the film’s PG-friendly tone. Similarly, Butler does a pretty decent job delivering a more vulnerable variation on his typical screen masculinity, as Frosty is more introverted and laid-back than the alpha male characters the actor has made his calling card in recent years (Butler harkens back to his pre-300 turn in Dear Frankie, in that regard).

The direction from Hanson and Apted further helps to elevate the shortcomings of the story, allowing the film to occasionally succeed as gentle, inoffensive, and even sweet entertainment (outside of when it takes place in the ocean, that is). Still, even that only takes Chasing Mavericks so far, as the non-surfing elements of the narrative just seem too formulaic and lacking in depth for anyone to pull off with complete success. Moreover, there’s a listlessness to the coming-of-age aspect of the narrative that becomes all the more noticeable because the surfing elements are so well-executed.

As a whole, Chasing Mavericks offers some spectacular cinematic imitation of the surfing experience, but fills that mold with paint-by-numbers plot beats and characters; thankfully solid direction and chemistry between the leads makes all that easier to swallow. Finally, the real-life ending to Jay Moriarity’s story (which is covered in the epilogue) does add an unexpected touch of poignancy to the proceedings.

However, even with all that working in its favor, this film never excels beyond the same level reached by other inspirational genre fare intended to be all-inclusive for family audiences. Chasing Mavericks invites cynicism in that sense, but it’s made with enough sincerity to avoid being so immediately disposable as that description suggests.

Chasing Mavericks is now playing in theaters around the U.S. It is Rated PG for thematic elements and some perilous action.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:54 pm

Chasing Mavericks: Movie Review

Oct 31, 2012
Chasing Mavericks is one of those hoary ''based on a true story'' movies that borders on hagiography. It's a fictionalized take on the early life of surfing wunderkind Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) and his attempt, with the help of his mentor Frosty (Gerard Butler), to conquer the giant waves known as ''mavericks.'' Although the beaches of North California and their crashing waves are gorgeous, the story and the acting don't hold water. Chasing Mavericks is more interested in showing Moriarity to be a hero than an actual person, and the movie suffers for it in the end.

Weston plays Moriarity as a 15-year-old, and although Weston is still in his early twenties, he looks disconcertingly older. The tan make-up doesn't help, and neither does his hollow performance, which is mostly just him looking wide-eyed and earnest. He's not given much to work with, the challenges he has to overcome not given much weight at all. Moriarity's dad left when he was a kid, and his mom (Elisabeth Shue) is often drunk and can't keep a job. This could have been an interesting development ? Jay has to take care of her and loan her money, and lives in what looks like a cubbyhole in the living room ? but it's given short shrift. The movie Moriarity patiently does her laundry and wakes her up for work instead of what a normal 15-year-old would do, which would probably include, at the very least, some choice four letter words or acting out. Although his mentoring at the hands of Butler's Frosty does explore some of Jay's pain and fears, he's not particularly affected by anything. He just shakes it all off like a shaggy dog who's spent a day at the beach.

Other plot developments are equally toothless and without any real consequence. He has a bully who verbally taunts him but eventually respects him. His best friend is either doing or selling drugs, given his shady goings-on and wads of dough in his pocket. Moriarity holds a torch for his childhood friend Kim (Leven Rambin) who is apparently embarrassed to be seen with him, but even she isn't all that bad. It's like an after-school special that runs for 105 minutes (but feels much longer).

His crusty mentor Frosty is supposed to be a damaged man whose passion for surfing trumps everything, even, it seems, supporting his family. At one point, it's clear he's lied to his wife about going to do construction work, but she just sort of shrugs it off. Brenda (Abigail Spencer) knows Frosty's love for the ocean and how it heals him from past tragedies, so she mostly tolerates his behavior, aside from a few sharp remarks. As his voiceover indicates (delivered by Butler with an accent that goes in and out), these ''Children of the Tides'' are simply drawn to the ocean, even if it kills them. The passion trumps all, as it surely did in the life of the real Jay Moriarity.

The footage of the men surfing is the centerpiece of the story, which is probably why everything else feels like an afterthought. Even this is uneven, though. Some of it is obviously Butler and Weston Butler was injured on the set while filming a surfing scene but the faraway shots don't really match up. It's not clear if this is archival footage or if it's just poorly edited and filmed. A few scenes in the movie look startlingly different, all cloudy grays with Butler haggard and thinner, and although it could be just a really ham-handed way to visually indicate grief, this interlude looks like it's from an entirely different movie. A perk of Chasing Mavericks is its ''alternative'' music soundtrack that is immediately recognizable and surprisingly on point, with songs from Mazzy Star, Matthew Sweet, and the Butthole Surfers popping up at appropriate times.

While surely the people involved in making the film are dedicated to preserving Jay's memory and inspiring others, it's hard to take it seriously or be emotionally moved by such a blatantly unblemished portrayal. Real tributes show that grit and shortcomings of their subjects as much as why they're heroes.

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PostSubject: Re: "Chasing Mavericks" Reviews   Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:45 pm

He Said, She Said: 'Chasing Mavericks' totally wipes out, dude

"Chasing Mavericks" stars Gerard Butler as an aging Santa Cruz big wave surfur who deigns to reveal the secrets of surviving big wave surfing to a young friend looking for a father figure.
MICHELLE: I almost drowned trying to surf The Wedge as a teenager. I didn't know what I was doing, gave it a shot, and was lucky to survive. So I secretly envy those who test themselves against the ocean and manage to turn a sport into an art form. But I've never seen a good movie about it. In fact, I've seen several bad ones.

ALLEN: I've seen good surfing movies. This is not one of them.

MICHELLE: "Soul Surfer" is about an awesome young lady whose arm got bitten off by a great white in Kauai, who fought her way back with the help of a deep faith. It's almost unwatchable as a film, and features my most favorite location on earth, Hanalei. But it's hard to put my finger on why it failed as a film for me. This one was easier. I think Allen put it best when he said, "It felt like an After-School Special." That's absolutely true. You've got to love a guy who finds his passion at a young age and does everything he can to follow it — even when it seems objectively crazy.

ALLEN: The problem is they added several melodramatic subplots that didn't go anywhere or add dramatic punch.

MICHELLE: Butler plays Frosty, a crusty older surfer who makes the decision to initiate a kid who lives a few doors down in the world of huge wave surfing. He throws some "Karate Kid" style challenges at the kid. And the kid rises to every challenge. Along the way, he find the courage to talk to the girl he's loved since he was about 10, while taking care of his drunk mother and helping to pay the rent.

I just wish it wasn't all so clichŽ. And that he didn't look so much like Chris Atkins in "Blue Lagoon."

Not that there's anything wrong with handsome curly-haired blonds who surf. It just strikes you a bit odd when both our leads' accents start leaking into the performance.

ALLEN: They never explain why Frosty has childhood pictures from Tahoe, but sounds like he's from Dublin. In the 1960s and 1970s there were some great documentaries shot on surfing — excellent cinematography that's absent here.

MICHELLE: This subject has great movie potential. It wasn't achieved here.

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