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
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
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.