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Doug & the Movies: 'Chasing Mavericks'

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SALT LAKE CITY -- "Chasing Mavericks" has nothing to do with rounding up horses but everything to do with chasing an individual, elusive dream. In this case, mavericks refer to gigantic waves that reportedly break on the California Coast but most believe to be a myth.

Jonny Weston stars as real life legendary surfer, Jay Moriarty. Our story begins with young Jay being rescued from treacherous waters by Gerard Butler as Frosty Hesson, who just happens to be rounding the point after a day of catching waves. Jay wasn't surfing; he was rescuing the dog of his friend, Kim (Leven Ramblin). Two life-changing relationships emerge from this moment.

Jay idealizes Frosty, who is renowned for his surfing prowess and his amazing knowledge of the sport. And, it turns out, they're neighbors. Early one morning, Jay stows away in Frosty's van and witnesses his hero and several buddies surf the mythical Mavericks. Of course, Jay gets busted, but after considerable pleading and Frosty' s wife stepping in to take Jay's side, the older surfer agrees to teach his new protégé how to tackle the giant waves and most importantly, how to do it and live.

There are some touching, even humorous elements sprinkled in. But there's just so much angst you can take.

A myriad of subplots are running rampant through this story. Jay and his mother ( Elizabeth Shue) have been abandoned by dear old dad, and often the son becomes the parent of his mother. Then there's the tense relationship with the delinquents of surfing, but as the Beach Boys said, "The bad guys know us and they leave us alone." Well, that is until they start selling drugs to Jay's best friend.

Ah, and then there are the two love stories going on. Frosty and his amazing, very understanding wife (Abigail Spenser) give us the first story. Jay and Kim deliver the second. But Kim is a little older and with the high school social strata, that presents problems.

About Jay Moriarty
  • Born in Georgia in 1978
  • Moved to Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Started surfing at age 9
  • Began surfing Mavericks at age 16
  • Died June 15, 2001 in the Indian Ocean, in an apparent diving accident

As the plot, or plots, lead us toward the day when the mavericks will actually be chased, there are many telegraphing moments that tell us this isn't going to be an easy ride. And that's a problem. In an effort to set the stage for the big day and the ultimate future of Jay Moriarty, the filmmakers chalk-up some cheesy, overly dramatic deliveries.

Butler lends real weight and credibility to this movie and that helps to elevate and rescue some of the less stellar scenes. Don't get me wrong, there are some touching, even humorous elements sprinkled in and, if you love surfing, some spectacular, Warren Miller-like shots on water. But there's just so much angst you can take.

I liked "Chasing Mavericks" but didn't love it. So, it gets 2 ½ stars and it's rated PG.


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