Chasing Mavericks
1.5 Waffle!

They should have just called it Karate Kid: Surf's Up!

Based on a true story (and we'll have something to say about that later), Jonny "My Parents Couldn't Afford to Buy Me an H" Weston stars as Jay Moriarity - a troubled kid with a troubled family who loves to surf. With an absent father, Jay could use a little mentoring, and he seems to have picked the dude up the street, Frosty (Gerard Butler) - a guy who loves surfing even more than the kid.

Frosty and his buddies surf some of the most challenging and deadly waves around, and know the mythical, legendary, and never seen Mavericks waves are on their way. Jay wants the challenge, but Frosty only agrees to help if the young boy goes through a rigorous training regimen.

Faster than you can say, "Wax on. Wax off," we've got a movie.

I knew I was in trouble 20 minutes into Chasing Mavericks when I started hoping a shark would eat Jonny Weston to end the whole enterprise.

It's not that you can hate Chasing Mavericks, but my feelings about the movie are much like how women feel about me. It's nice enough, they are trying hard, and you don't want to hate it, but there is no way in hell you are letting it take you out on a date. It's a movie stuck in The Friend Zone.

Directors Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson (Apted stepped in to finish the movie when Hanson had some medical issues) know how to push all of the right buttons and evoke some emotion out of the audience, but it's all so predictable and so obvious, you can't become fully invested or stimulated, especially anyone who has ever seen The Karate Kid or any of the similar movies it inspired.

Frosty is just Mr. Miyagi with frosted tips in his hair and a surf board instead of karate skills.

Jay is the same as Daniel filling the role of the wide-eyed young kid trying to prove himself to those around him, while attempting to win the girl of his dreams.

We have a mantra equal to "Wax On, Wax Off."

Jay has to engage in all sorts of unorthodox assignments he doesn't realize will help him achieve his goal.

We even get a kid like Johnny Lawrence who always attacks Jay and has his own Cobra Kai-like gang.

The only thing missing is some dude screaming, "Sweep the leg!"

Worst of all, Weston isn't a good leading man. Butler holds up his end of the deal by delivering a force of nature who can also get quiet and reflective when needed, but that kind of nuance doesn't exist in Weston's repertoire. It's all wide-eyed and bland as he tends to wear the same expression over and over and over again.

Then, Apted, Hanson and writer Kario Salem make a huge mistake with the ending. A certain, uplifting tone is established throughout the movie, but they make a complete switch at the end that wasn't necessary and ruins the experience for people who seek out Chasing Mavericks for its more inspirational aspects. It is part of the story of Jay Moriarity, but didn't need to be part of this story.

I can't believe the guy who directed L.A. Confidential also directed Chasing Mavericks.

Chasing Mavericks is rated PG for thematic elements and some perilous action.