'Mavericks' a wave of sentiment

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:22 PM ET

A four-hankie weeper about a boy and his wave (and his surrogate dad), Chasing Mavericks is a movie so awash in sentiment and good intentions, you feel like an ogre for not fully appreciating it.

The feeling is amped by the fact that it's based on the story of a real person, the almost-suicidally passionate "big wave" surfer Jay Moriarty.

But it's the fact that there are so many elements in Moriarty's story - his lifelong "because it's there" obsession with riding 30-foot waves (the legendary "mavericks" of the title), his father issues, the side story of Moriarty's "Mr. Miyagi," Frosty Hesson, his relationship with his childhood sweetheart, etc. - that makes it so talky and overly-long.

Chasing Mavericks is a simple, dare I say wholesome, story that should not take two hours to tell.

Acting-wise, everyone's role is not cast equally. Newcomer John Weston gives pure puppy-dog as the fatherless Moriarty who's spent his entire life watching waves and counting the seconds between crests.

But it's a freshly-ripped Gerard Butler as his mentor who is the dramatic centerpiece of the movie, by sheer force of acting ability. Although, I couldn't help but chuckle at his shape here, having heard Butler complain about how much he hates effort six-pack abs require and vow never to have them again. Of course, the female audience may have a different take.

The women in the piece (including Elisabeth Shue as Moriarty's possibly-alcoholic mom) don't have as much to work with. The standout is Abigail Spencer as Frosty's wife, whose thankless mission in life seems to be having babies and angelically understanding that men-gotta-do-what-men-gotta-do.

And full visual marks to director Curtis Hanson for breaking up the monotony by conveying the almost unimaginable power of that magnitude of surf. At regular intervals in Chasing Mavericks, impatience is overpowered by awe.

jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca

 

 


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