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Chasing Mavericks


Stars: Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin, Taylor Handley, Devin Crittenden, Jenica Bergere, Cooper Timberline, Greg Long, Peter Mel, Zach Wormhoudt.

Director: Curttis Hanson, Michael Apted

While this sweeter-than-saccharine biopic is unlikely to make waves at the box-office it’s Disney-style saga of 15-year-old surfer Jonny Weston who, discovering one of the biggest waves on Earth - the mythic Mavericks surf break - happens near his home in Santa Cruz, California, recruits local surfing legend Gerard Butler to help him ride the ocean monster…

Which, essentially, is the seen-it-all-before plotline. There are trimmings, of course. Weston’s single mother, competently played but, like the film itself, eminently forgettable, drinks. There only 12 weeks for Butler – garlanded with curls, a beard and a relatively impressive Californian accent – to train him. And Weston’s teenage girlfriend Abigail Spencer ends up forging Weston’s mother’s signature on the permission slip demanded by Butler…

(Butler, incidentally deserves extra praise for, with an impressively straight face, delivering such lines as “We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again, until the day we don't come back leaving only that which was touched along the way”).

Weston is suitably blond and buffed up and, inevitably, looks nothing like the real-life character he plays who died young and is briefly pictured in the film’s coda).

What gives the film its mild punch (rather than the performances) are the pulse-racing surfing scenes embroidered with impressive special effects. Direction by Curtis Hanson and, for the last three weeks of principal photography when Hanson had to drop out for health reasons, Michael Apted, is serviceable.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Jul 2013