<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson. Starring Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin
‘Based on a true story’ doesn’t impress us much nowadays. Chasing Mavericks is a lengthy coming-of-age story that is replete with cliché and formula that just drag on till a climax with not much payoff.
Based on champion surfer Jay Moriarty’s real life glory and tragedy, Johnny Weston plays the 16-year-old maverick master who has grown up with a love for dropping 4 story-tall waves. His good neighbour Frosty (Gerard Butler) is a surfing guru and little Jay wants to be his apprentice. You’ve seen it all before. At first Frosty is reluctant but after a bit of convincing from his wife (Abigail Spencer) to take interest in the fatherless boy, he decides to take him on. Ho-hum.
On from there and lots of teenage angst, both from Jay and Frosty as their relationship builds and so does Jay’s character and happy, bubbly personality. This is no Karate Kid folks. Gerard Butler does a lousy job here with an even lousier script. Jonny Weston is exceedingly saccharine and his curly blonde hair, innocent smile and doe eyes get a bit irritating after a while. A best friend, a bully and a girl are thrown in for good measure. The girl Kim, played by Leven Rambin (looks a lot like a young Robin Wright), is Jay’s childhood sweetheart but struggles with ‘complicated’ issues: ‘I know you are the one’. That’s it. So what’s the issue?
Apparently, director Curtis Hanson fell ill during the shooting and was replaced with Michael Apted, which could explain some of the poor direction and editing. The magic of the surf and the waves never really shines through. There’s a dullness and flatness about it all perhaps to give you a sense that the film was shot in the 90s but failing to achieve any sort of inspirational look or feel. The music struggles to lift the listless visuals but nothing swells in your heart.
By the end of it all you realise that Americans just love sports where they could get killed and maimed. In fact they know they probably will but they still do it. So is that spirit or stupidity?
Only Abigail Spencer who plays Gerard Butler’s wife in the film shines through with her touching and real performance as a woman dealing with a husband who has his issues but is a good man at heart. Sadly, this movie is tragic for both the men in different ways.