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Movie review: 'Chasing Mavericks

‘Chasing Mavericks' tells true surfing story .
Oklahoman Modified: October 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm •  Published: October 26, 2012

Jay's high school years are as tough as anybody's — part-time pizza joint job, a surfing pal (Devin Crittenden) who is dabbling in drugs, bullies in and out of the water, an older teen girl (Leven Rambin) he has worshipped since childhood, but who seems embarrassed by his attentions now. With kids sneaking into beach clubs after hours, breaking into backyards to skateboard in the empty pools of the rich folk, the film gives a PG, edges-rubbed-off taste of surfing/skateboarding culture of the era.

The film tends toward the cute, as Jay's guru, his sensei, makes him practice holding his breath for four minutes, makes him ride a paddleboard 36 miles across Half Moon Bay and takes him on dives to explore the deadly reef that causes the wave break.

But the mentor-student relationship works. The sense of a time and place is very strong. And the surfing footage is awe-inspiring.

Built with “Soul Surfer” in mind, the film's emotional punches are saved for the third act, and it never really sells its “Live Like Jay” — on the edge and for each moment — ethos. It's a bit overlong, for the limited scope of the story and narrow vision of the characters. That's probably due to initial director Curtis Hanson getting ill and being replaced by the equally accomplished Michael Apted in the last chunk of the shooting.

But “Chasing Mavericks” is still an entertaining dip into a world many talk about, but few have ever sampled first hand.

— Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel, MCT Information Services