Entertainment Movies
Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Chasing Mavericks' review: A Gerard Butler hot streak?

*** (out of four)

Seriously, Justin Bieber. Are you trying to be as obnoxious as possible, wearing sunglasses during your dinner at Ron of Japan?

I mention that because instead of attending Bieber's Chicago concert Tuesday, I saw a movie featuring a teen sensation about whom I want to know more, not less.

Based on the true story of surfer Jay Moriarty, “Chasing Mavericks” documents the 15-year-old's (winningly played by Jonny Weston) relentless determination to conquer a high-risk surfing spot known as Mavericks. The kid's a natural, scouting waves before anyone teaches him how. The Mavericks require more than instinct. Conveniently, his neighbor, Frosty (Gerard Butler), is an expert surfer whose wife (Abigail Spencer) encourages him to take Jay under his wing. Jay's father is MIA; Frosty doesn't know how to be a dad to his kids. The surrogate relationship happens as naturally as the tide.

Of course a local jerk (Taylor Handley) fosters a rivalry with Jay because every surfing movie needs a bad guy to be shown up on the water. Directed by Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”) and Michael Apted, who stepped in when Hanson required emergency heart surgery late in production, “Chasing Mavericks” and its script by Kario Salem gets a little corny in its messages about finding your way through the hard stuff. It's OK to teach a kid lessons like this; that's why we have dads. Jay's hard work and persistence, whether it's practicing until he can hold his breath for four minutes or staring down insane waves, is inspiring.

This kid's attitude is contagious, so it's easy to see why his cute lifelong friend (Levin Rambin of “The Hunger Games”) might get on his wavelength as more than a pal. What's more surprising is that with “Chasing Mavericks”—which, due to its mid-'90s setting, brings back music from the Offspring and Sponge—Butler now has a two-movie winning streak on his hands following “Coriolanus.” Anyone wondering if he can make it three probably shouldn't watch the trailer for the upcoming “Playing for Keeps.”

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...

  • One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    A 29-year-old man died after being shot by police on the Lower West Side early Saturday, police said.

Comments
Loading
78°