CHASING MAVERICKS (Curtis Hanson, Michael Apted). 115 minutes. Opens Friday (October 26). See listings. Rating: N
For a movie about thrill-seekers reaching for the ultimate heights, Chasing Mavericks is about as dull as wading in a shallow pool.
Newcomer Jonny Weston (whose performance is as flat as a board) plays Jay Moriarty, the Santa Cruz surfing icon famous for surviving a wipeout on the Mavericks, waves the size of buildings that can prove deadly for people foolhardy enough to ride them. Jay (who died at 23) was only 16 at the time, and the movie focuses on his time spent training for the event with his surfing guru/father figure, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler).
There's an inspiring story here. Unfortunately, it's drowned in a boring screenplay full of obtuse sentiment and clichés as predictable as California weather.
In scene after scene, Jay paddles across great stretches of the sea and holds his breath under water, training that is gruelling both for him and the audience.
All the Zen-like, surfer-dude wisdom spouted by Butler's Frosty fails to elevate the material. His hollow spiels might go down better with a bag of reefer.
Still, Butler's the only actor who gets to play a semblance of a character; young Weston can't do much with Jay, depicted here as a flawless specimen, a boy scout with a surfboard. That makes for a safe tribute but it also undermines what Jay was about. Dude didn't play it safe.