Note: Mainly in the interest of consistency and continuity of writing, and also as a way of challenging the form I have grown accustomed to, I have decided to do the following. Whenever I don’t feel ‘ranty’ about a particular film, but still would like to have something to say about it, I thought it would not be a terrible idea to attempt reviewing the film in question in a more confined fashion. It will surely force me to think about substance and coherence when all I would have to work with would be 500 words or less. I realize that in this day and age the general consensus seems to favor bullet points over long essays, and normally I try and fight this trend with every fiber of my being. Nevertheless, I find a shorter form fun to play with and it gives me a chance to talk about films that are not exactly ‘blind spot’ material, or they simply don’t evoke emotions powerful enough to coerce me to go on a rant. Well, I can still go on a rant, as long as it’s compact…
So, there it is – A minireview: delivering opinions in 500 words or less.
Directed by a weirdly paired duo of directors (Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson), “Chasing Mavericks” can be succinctly described as a true story of a father-son relationship between two completely unrelated characters. In it, a veteran surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) befriends his teenage neighbor, Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston), whose only passion and a getaway from his sad everyday life is the dream of riding big-ass waves. Even though the youngling is skilled and determined beyond belief, Frosty initially refuses to help Jay prepare to surf the most dangerous waves imaginable. The boy’s persistence finally wins over and they embark on an adventure, where they will both realize they have more in common than they first imagined.
It is almost too easy to dismiss “Chasing Mavericks” as a bog standard biopic-drama (Jay and Frosty are real people) with its predictable arcs and emotional tone. And yet, I enjoyed it thoroughly, even when I knew 15 minutes ahead what was going to happen every time. It’s safe to say that for some films, the story needs not to be original and fresh to still make an impact. In here, I knowingly waited for Frosty to realize, how much he needed his young protégé to be in his life. I couldn’t help, but root for both protagonists to discover the bond that existed between them, and that it did not need to be built in the first place; it was simply there: a bond between two fatherless men, but at different stages of life.
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t point out this film’s shortcomings that I found to be concerned with character development. I understand the main story arc of the bond between two men and their mutual empowerment was supposed to be the focal point of the whole film, but at times the serious tone of surfing big waves made the film look like a buddy cop drama, where Frosty is the seasoned lieutenant and Jay is the rookie cop that has yet to understand the importance of rules and respect, but not before he gets them both into trouble. I understand that people take their passions seriously, but still some dialogue in “Chasing Mavericks” walks the fine line between ‘serious enough’ and ‘so serious it’s funny’. I should also point out the redundancy of almost all supporting characters in the film, as for the most part they distract, rather than enrich the picture. Notable examples include Jay’s girlfriend and the entire cast of Jay’s peers who have no business being there other than to fill the void on the screen.
Even with all its flaws, “Chasing Mavericks” delivers what it set out to, in which a combination of beautiful sceneries (some helicopter-shot sequences are truly breath-taking), matching soundtrack and the dynamic duo of main characters prove that a showdown between a man and nature has little to do with physical exertion, but rather with overcoming your fears and finding yourself in tune with both nature and your spirit.