Friday, October 26, 2012

Chasing Mavericks [2012]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  Roger Ebert (3 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review 
Roger Ebert's review

Chasing Mavericks (directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson, screenplay by Kario Salem based on the story by Jim Meenagen and Brandon Hooper) is about a (then) teenager named Jay Moriarty (played by Johnny Weston) who just outside of his hometown of from Santa Cruz, CA successfully surfed one of the biggest waves (a "Maverick") ever recorded.

Given some of the personal challenges that Jay faced -- he largely raised himself as his father abandoned him and his mother Kristy Moriarty (played by Elizabeth Shue) when he was young, and ma' who was struggling with alcoholism wasn't exactly the most reliable person either, the true parent figures in his life were his neighbors, roofer during the week, surfer/"Maverick hunter" on early mornings, weekends and honestly whenever he could break-away Frosty Hesson (played by Gerard Butler) as well as his more sensible wife Brenda (played by Abigail Spenser) -- the film itself is being presented as having an uplifting/positive message.

However, I honestly do have my reservations:  Given that the film notes at the end that Jay died cliff diving some years later, at age 22, I'm HONESTLY _not sure_ if parents would like their teens to "live (exactly) as Jay did."

Most of us who've grown-up in the States know that there is a beauty and freedom in surfing and this movie is certainly celebrates that.  But there are also more problematic sides to the surfing subculture: _perhaps_ excessive risk taking as well as a culture of, again, largely "carefree" recreational drug use.  To be sure, both of these "more problematic" aspects of the surfing subculture are hinted at in the film.  The Maverick style waves that the film shows Jay surfing at the end of the film are truly _insane_ (and conversely honestly make the film ;-) and Jay's best friend and surfer buddy is shown apparently selling drugs out of the parking lot of the fast food restaurant that the two work at.  These more problematic elements of the surfer culture are, however, largely buried under the film's celebration of "surf and sun." 

Don't get me wrong, I do think that I _get_ (understand) the joy/freedom that must come with surfing, but I also understand "Frosty's" wife Brenda's Hesson's request of her husband: "Please promise me that the rush that must come with surfing down a 30 foot wave will not overpower your responsibility to me and your kids."   

Frosty is shown at the end of the film understanding Brenda's request, I do hope that readers here (especially the young ones) will appreciate it as well.

Still, "wouldn't it be nice?" ... ;-)

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