First Hit: I wanted more surf scenes and less of the drama that had little impact on the film's point.
A young Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) is fascinated by the ocean and the movement of waves.
His interest is peaked by self-discovering that the time between waves can have something to do with their height and massiveness. As a Santa Cruz young fatherless boy who takes on getting his mom (Kristy played by Elisabeth Shue) up and going in the morning so that she can get to work on time, working double shifts at a pizza parlor to help pay the rent, and his fascination with surfing, he finds a father figure hopeful in Frosty Hesson (played by Gerard Butler).
Frosty is married to Brenda (played by Abigail Spencer) and they have two children to whom he rarely relates to. Of course there is a back-story as to why and it is that he was put into an orphanage as a young boy, so he doesn’t get close to anyone except to Brenda.
The set up works well enough and Jay and Frosty begin a relationship based around Jay’s desire to ride Mavericks a surf spot an hour or so from his home. Mavericks was a phantom spot until word got out it was real and the waves there on a particular storm swell will rise higher than 40 feet and even up to 60. You know the ending already, so there are no surprises.
But if the directors lopped 15 or so minutes off this film, it becomes much better. The wave shots are really good and having stood on the cliff overlooking Mavericks during a swell, this film does enough justice for the audience to feel the power of these huge waves.
Weston is good and at times strong as Jay. Watching his body build up to take on Mavericks along with his joyous enthusiasm was very good. Shue was good as the struggling single mom who gains strength as the film moves along. Butler is perfect for this role with the right amount of dis-attachment and engagement. Spencer's face is so beautiful that it is mesmerizing. Leven Rambin plays Jay’s lifelong girlfriend Kim and her sunny disposition works well with Weston. Kario Salem and Jim Meenaghan wrote the well-meaning screenplay but they could have left out stuff to make this film crisper. Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson co-directed this film with some great footage but didn’t know what to leave on the cutting room floor.
Overall: Enjoyed many aspects of this film.