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FILM FANS: 'Chasing Mavericks' reminiscent of 'Karate Kid' of the sea

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local resident reviewing the movie of the week: "Chasing Mavericks." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

This surfing movie is a well-done tribute to the life of Jay Moriarity, an accomplished surfer from California. Jay (played excellently by lead Jonny Weston) is determined to surf upcoming larger-than-life waves of unbelievable proportions. He secures the help and training of his highly skilled surfer neighbor Frosty (Gerard Butler).

They develop a father-and-son-like relationship and it is neat to see how it changes them both for the better. I enjoyed the teaching moments (reminded me of "Karate Kid" in part) and the awesome ocean scenes. There is also a good side story of his evolving relationship with his childhood crush, Kimmy. A positive film for the surfer and non-surfer alike, I thought this was enjoyable to watch and had a good message about passion, perseverance, dedication and discipline.

-- Cindy Evans, Duluth

2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

"Chasing Mavericks" is a film based on iconic surfer Jay Moriarty, but as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that it's much more about building relationships, chasing your dreams and finding yourself in the end.

Gerard Butler plays legendary surfer Frosty Hesson, a construction worker who rises to the unlikely status of father figure for Jay, but remains a surfer at heart. Frosty is ever addicted to riding the Mavericks, the 50- to 60-foot waves of Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Jay, played by Johnny Weston, is a teenager living with his single mom (Elisabeth Shue), who frankly didn't have enough speaking lines to showcase her talent.

Jay was presented as one beyond being likable. I was waiting for the heavens to open up above him and see the glow of his halo. Because he played such a perfect person, his character lost his humanity.

One of the things I liked about the movie is that surfers were portrayed as much more knowledgeable of the sea and its currents, and the athleticism involved in surfing. This was not the light fare usually presented for surfers trying to impress girls and use vocabulary limited to "dude" and "gnarly."

Extra kudos that the original picture of Jay surfing the crest of a maverick, made famous by photographer Bob Barbour of Surf magazine, was used in the movie. "Chasing Mavericks" was overall enjoyable, but not great.

-- Cathryn Veal, Lawrenceville

2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Based on the true story of ace surfer Jay Moriarty, "Chasing Mavericks" is a beautifully filmed movie that combines wonderful cinematography (without the need for CGI) with a touching story about life's second chances.

Abandoned by his military father, Jay (played by newcomer Jonny Weston) moves with mom Kristy (Elisabeth Shue) to Santa Cruz, Calif. A very young Jay soon becomes fascinated with surfing and infatuated with gruff surfer neighbor Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). As a teenager, Jay reaches a deal with the reluctant Frosty to take his already-good surfing skills to the highest level -- training to ride the legendary Maverick waves that only occur along the California coast every 10 to 12 years, and that are powerful enough to crush the life out of an unprepared surfer.

This movie will hook you with its stories of broken relationships and wounded hearts struggling to find meaning in their lives. Weston does a good job playing the teenage Jay, Shue is capable in a limited role as Kristy, and Butler is fine as Frosty (although he has a Scottish accent that comes and goes mysteriously throughout the movie). Call this one "The Karate Kid Meets Surfer Dude." Wax on, wax off and hang ten!

-- Tim Weekley, Suwanee