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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Chasing Mavericks review

Chasing Mavericks green light Gerard Butler Jonny Weston

This gentle father-son(ish) tale about an expert surfer and his teen apprentice is a rare “family” movie that isn’t preachy or insipid.
I’m “biast” (pro): big fan of Gerard Butler despite his attempts to put me off

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Clearly it’s a sign from somewhere that this 2012 movie hits DVD in the U.K. just as Apple releases the latest Mac OS, 10.9, code-named Mavericks. Just what is Mavericks, anyway? It’s a deadly — literally — surf area in Northern California that Apple has borrowed to name its software and that inspired real-life 1990s daredevil teenaged surfer Jay Moriarity. In this biographical drama, 15-year-old Jay (Jonny Weston) convinces his neighbor, veteran surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler: Olympus Has Fallen), to teach him how to take on and survive Mavericks. How dedicated to authenticity is this film? Butler, doing his own surf stunts, was almost killed by Mavericks, that’s how. The surfing stuff looks pretty cool, but I’m no fan of any sports, except as they reveal aspects of the human spirit, and this gentle film does a nice, unassuming job of highlighting a boy’s need for adult male mentorship by creating an appealing relationship between enthusiastic Jay and gruff Frosty, and without ever indicting Jay’s overworked and overstressed single mom (Elisabeth Shue [House at the End of the Street], always a joy to see). And while this is clearly intended to be “inspirational” — read: Christian — and “family” — read: inoffensive — there’s little preachy or insipid here. See, it can be done.

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Chasing Mavericks (2012)
US/Can release: Oct 26 2012
UK/Ire release: Jul 5 2013

MPAA: rated PG for thematic elements and some perilous action
BBFC: rated PG (contains distressing scenes and one use of mild language)

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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