Chasing Mavericks movie review: Not just another surf movie

Oct 26, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

With spectacular footage of near tsunami-sized waves, this movie is based on a true story that will inspire you to dig deep and face your fears. After nearly drowning during the shooting, Gerard Butler gives a fearless performance that will linger in your imagination for weeks to come.

Chasing Mavericks

5 stars: Perfect for those seeking inspiration

Based on the real lives of teenager Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) and stoic surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler), Chasing Mavericks takes place in their hometown of Santa Cruz, California, in the late 1980s.

Raised by single mom Kristy (Elisabeth Shue), 15-year-old Jay convinces die-hard surfer Frosty to mentor him when he learns that the giant, mythical Mavericks surf break is real. Surfing the 50-foot waves is a near death wish, however. To survive the waves — let alone surf them — Jay agrees to a 12-week training program in which Frosty will help him build endurance and teach him to hold his breath for nearly five minutes.

Chasing Mavericks beach

The physical training is grueling, but Jay has set his sights on facing the Mavericks. What he doesn’t expect is the mental component or having to write essays on fear. Frosty wants Jay to internalize every aspect of this incredible challenge and tells him to dig deep into his fears — something few teenage boys are able to do.

This whole experience proves life altering for Jay, who received a letter from his dead-beat dad several years ago, but never had the courage to open it. Here, surfing the giant waves becomes a metaphor for becoming a man. There’s no room for error in this challenge and Frosty knows the danger Jay will be swimming into. But these are people who don’t want to live their lives in fear, they want to live with a bold lust for life, to be in the moment and feel their hearts racing. They are children of the tides.

Chasing Mavericks

Gerard Butler is magnificent as Frosty, whose name sums up his character's personality perfectly. The most emotionally riveting part of this film isn’t Jay’s journey, but Frosty’s. He’s a man who has dealt with great loss in his life and Jay becomes the bridge to help him cross over from the darkness to the light. Both men are eternally changed.

Bottom line: This is a beautifully crafted story with amazing cinematography that will have you inspired not only by nature, but also by the human experience. Never would I have thought a surf movie could bring me to tears, but a word to the wise: bring your Kleenex. Enjoy!

Photo credit:  20th Century Fox