The Good: Decent enough acting
The Bad: Very obvious plot structure, Very predictable character arcs, Overbearing soundtrack
The Basics: Chasing Mavericks is an obvious sports movie that is bloated with ridiculously predictable character arcs that leaves viewers completely disappointed.
Sports movies are tough to make interesting or even feel original. Sure, there are ways to make the formula seem audacious or fresher than the formula actually is. Chasing Mavericks does not even make the attempt. In fact, the formula seems to be so rigidly executed that the subject of it makes the film seem anticlimactic. After all, at least a typical fight movie or sports movie has a prolonged game to play or more than one round of a fight to make it through. Chasing Mavericks is a long-feeling build-up to a short resolution that makes one feel like they have wasted their time.
Chasing Mavericks only has one real thing going for it and that is the strength of the performances in it. For a change, Gerard Butler does not appear as a character who is a sexist pig. He does, however, play yet another disillusioned character whose character arc is an obvious one that involves him reclaiming his past glory to become less of a curmudgeon. While Chasing Mavericks is based upon a true story, but I know nothing about that, so how it portrays the actual people involved is something I cannot comment upon at all. Instead, this is a pretty pure review of the film, Chasing Mavericks.
Years ago, Frosty Hesson surfed a massive wave that he survived and the act of which made him a local celebrity. Now, he is essentially the surrogate father to the neighbor next door, Jay. Frosty and Brenda do what they can to protect Jay, who at an early age shows an eagerness to learn to surf. When rumors of the return of Mavericks (25 – 80 ft waves) nearby surface, Jay makes it clear that he is going to try to surf them. Seeing his determination is likely to get him killed, Frosty reluctantly begins training Jay and, in the process, he begins to appreciate life again.
Jay, on the other hand, struggles to get into the physical shape he needs to survive. While he works out, he wrestles with helping his best friend (who is into drugs), while winning over the girl of his dreams. As Jay prepares for the chance to catch a Maverick and gain some celebrity himself, he and Frosty bond.
Chasing Mavericks is bad. On the surface, its problem is in how formulaic it is, but it does not take much digging to see that the fundamental problem is that it is filling a weak concept (young man trains to surf) out to be a feature-length movie. This would be a basic cable Movie Of The Week were it not for the presence of Gerard Butler and Elisabeth Shue in the cast. In fact, one has to imagine that the commercial breaks are all that might get it in a M.O.T.W. format up to the two hour minimum for a M.O.T.W. Chasing Mavericks is not so fortunate, so the writers filled with every cliché in the Disappointing Hack’s Playbook. We have the friend in trouble, obvious romantic subplot, mother who is disappointed with the direction the kid is going (until she sees just how incredible the one thing he is working for actually is), out-of-touch mentor figure who uses training the next generation to reinvigorate his own life and relationship, and the Basic Sports Story.
In fact, Chasing Mavericks left me utterly unwilling to waste my time with more throrough analysis; there is none to give. Chasing Mavericks is an obvious film that viewers of any two sports movies has seen before. It includes the pounding, youth-oriented soundtrack, young, good-looking actors, and utterly no surprises.
As for the performances, Gerard Butler is fine in Chasing Mavericks. He does not seem like the usual jerk he plays in so many of his films, nor as the powerful leader (a la 300, reviewed here!) type. Instead, he seems pretty much like an average guy who got lucky in Chasing Mavericks and he makes that work for the character of Frosty. Jonny Weston is fine as Jay, but given how close in ages the character is to the actor, it seems like very little of a stretch for a young actor to play a young (I use the term loosely) athlete.
Easy to pass by – because it’s about three months away from a $5 DVD bin ($1 Black Friday specials next year) - Chasing Mavericks is an utterly horrible, formulaic sports movie without a single hook to sustain a full feature film.
For other sports films, please check out my reviews of:
The Blind Side
Chariots Of Fire
Check out how this film stacks up against others I have reviewed by visiting my Movie Review Index Page where movies are organized from best to worse!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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