A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Chasing Mavericks' overall messages are that with enough determination and discipline, you can accomplish anything. Jay accomplishes it by staying true to his course as a surfer, son, and student to Frosty. Even when things get hard, Jay never gives up and continues on his mission to ride the Mavericks.
Positive Role Models
Jay is an uncompromising, diligent, thoughtful young man who, unlike his friends, is extremely disciplined and willing to sacrifice to reach his goal -- riding the legendary Mavericks waves. (Spoiler alert: He ultimately dies while pursuing his love of surfing.) He's devoted to his mother and is a dedicated surfing student to Frosty, who requires obedience and hard work to make sure that Jay is ready. Frosty's wife is loving, encouraging, and kind. Frosty becomes the father that Jay always needed and wanted.
Violence & Scariness
A young wife/mother has a stroke and dies. Huge waves crash down on unprepared surfers who get bloody and bruised. A young man is shown moments before his death by drowning. A young bully smashes a car mirror with a bat; a teen boy tackles a man to the ground for threatening his mother. Teens look like they're going to come to blows but manage to break off the antagonism before anyone gets hurt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief kiss between married couple; one kiss between teens in love.
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"Oh my God," plus insults like "trash," "loser," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Frosty drives a big Ford van, and Radio Shack is mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jay's mom drinks a lot (he smells her drinks to confirm that there's alcohol in them and then throws them away). Teen bullies seem to be selling drugs, although it's never explicitly shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Chasing Mavericks is based on the true story of how 16-year-old Jay Moriarty became a surfing legend by training to ride the massive Mavericks waves. There are a few brief scenes of violence -- mostly pushing, shoving, and huge waves battering a few surfers who aren't up to the task -- as well as a couple of disturbing moments: A young wife/mother suffers a stroke and dies, and a young man is shown moments before his death by drowning. This is an inspiring tale of perseverance and discipline, but (spoiler alert!) it ends in the sadness that Moriarty died at age 22 while doing what he loved: taking risks with the sea. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A typical, inspiring coming-of-age story about an athlete willing to do what's necessary to accomplish his goals, it's a bit too treacly (and the obstacles too contrived) to be a remarkable film. It's visually gorgeous -- particularly the climactic surfing sequences when the water and the riders become one. But the story feels flat, and a few of the domestic dramas seem inauthentic (like the fact that Jay keeps an unopened letter from his father who abandoned him and his mother, or that his mother -- played by Elisabeth Shue -- is troubled and either an alcoholic or just overworked).
What's worse is that the movie's antagonist (a slightly older bully who really has no reason to bother with Jay), does nothing to drive the movie forward -- unlike, say, iconic bully Johnny in The Karate Kid. The only real obstacle to Jay accomplishing his dream is the untamable power of the waves themselves. Because of that, the best scenes, naturally, are of Weston and Butler paddling and talking reverently about what it takes to be a true surfer who respects the waves. Ultimately, Jay conquers the Mavericks -- as if there was really any doubt. If there's an overarching lesson in the film, it's that anything worth doing takes hard work, preparation, and humility.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.