Chasing Mavericks screened after WW press deadlines, but we dispatched a critic to scope it out. Does this surfer flick hang ten? Not quite.
Critic's Grade: C-
When teenage Jay spies the 40-plus-foot Mavericks surf break, he begs Frosty to help him surf there; their grueling training comprises the filmâs primary focus. But wait a minute, now an insignificant character is bullying Jay? And Frosty is a masochistic handyman? And Jay is in love with Kim (Leven Rambin), a popular girl who wonât talk to him in public? This film is The Karate Kid with a slightly cooler Daniel and an emotionally infirm Mr. Miyagi.
Iâm not even sure Iâd take the comparison that far. The continuity of the plot and characters may convince a young teen with one eye on the screen and the other on his dateâs slowly encroaching hand, but most moviegoers will be left raising their eyebrows and checking their watches. For one, Kim looks much older than Jayâcreepily older. The true series of events has been chopped and screwed Hollywood-style. One character, for example, drops dead with a loud clunk, having previously spent about two minutes on-screen. Sharks are cheesily reflected in visors, songs by the Offspring and Butthole Surfers play, and cannabis use is strictly frowned upon (by Jay, at least). ClichÃ©s are pulled from an admittedly large grab bag, but glued together hastily and awkwardly.
Letâs get one thing straight: As claimed on the Chasing Mavericks official site, it features âsome of the most mind-blowing real wave footage ever captured on film.â Surfers are shown numerous times catching and failing to catch massive walls of water, though the characters are difficult to keep straight during the more extended sequences. Seeing tiny surfers teetering atop these walls inspires some respect for the real Jay and his story. This may be a small saving grace, except that the messianic respect heaped on Jay and Frosty without a hint of irreverence will leave viewers wondering whatâs underneath the surfboard wax.
Jay asks Kim, âHave you ever felt like you were meant for something more, something bigger than you?â Iâll sleep soundly knowing this film wasnât meant for anything more.