Chasing Mavericks Movie Poster Image

Chasing Mavericks



Trite but inspiring teen surf story has some sad moments.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: October 23, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


Brief kiss between married couple; one kiss between teens in love.


"Oh my God," plus insults like "trash," "loser," etc.


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.

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.

What's the story?

When he was just 8 years old, Jay Moriarty was saved from drowning in perilous Santa Cruz, Calif., waves by his neighbor, local surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). Seven years later, Moriarty (Jonny Weston) has emerged as a teen longboard phenom who still idolizes Frosty. One early morning, Moriarty follows him to a secret surfing destination where Hesson and three other older surfers ride huge, 20-foot-plus waves called "Mavericks" that were thought to be a myth. Moriarty begs Hesson to prepare him to ride the remarkably high (and dangerous) waves. Encouraged by his wife (Abigail Spencer) to be fatherly toward Jay, Frosty agrees and enacts a strict physical and character-building training regimen to get Jay ready to survive the massive waves.

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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the discipline and drive that Jay calls on to commit to riding the big waves. How is he different from the other teenagers in the movie? Is he relatable?

  • Jay, while certainly inspirational, eventually meets a heartbreaking fate. Is it really good advice to "Live Like Jay"?

  • The movie is based on a true story; do you think filmmakers changed any details? Why might they do that? How could you find out what was fact and what was fiction?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 26, 2012
DVD release date:February 26, 2013
Cast:Elisabeth Shue, Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston
Directors:Curtis Hanson, Michael Apted
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Great boy role models
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements and some perilous action

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Kid, 12 years old May 23, 2013

Chasing Mavericks

This movie about a boy named jay who learns that the famous Mavericks really do exist so he found a surfer (Frosty) who rode the Mavericks to train him. Jay goes through some difficulties in life to get to his dream but overcomes them when riding the Mavericks. This movie was really inspiring to me because it showed me how much he wasn't appreciated by other people and I should make a difference in my life to do that but with a lot of bags to carry on his shoulders he still overcomes it to follow his dreams.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byShivom Oza November 6, 2012

Chasing Mavericks (2012) Review by Shivom Oza – American Surfer Jay Moriarty’s Story

‘Chasing Mavericks’, directed by Curtis Hanson (‘L.A. Confidential’, ‘8 Mile’) and Michael Apted (‘The World Is Not Enough’), is based on the life of the American surfer Jay Moriarty. The film is packed with some fantastic real-wave visuals. Towards the end, it strikes the emotional chord as well. Gerard Butler delivers a fine performance as Jay’s mentor Frosty Hesson. Newcomer Jonny Weston is first-rate as Jay Moriarty. There are a few unnecessary side-plots in the film which really slow down the tempo. The film is worth the DVD rental, not a theatre viewing. Circa 1987, 15-year-old Jay Moriarty discovers that the mythic Mavericks, one of the biggest waves on Earth, are not only real, but exist just miles away from his home at Santa Cruz. So, he persuades the local surfing legend Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler) to train him so that he can surf on the Mavericks. The training period begins with Frosty speaking about the four pillars of survival – Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. Jay gets asked to paddle across waters, write essays on various subjects, holding his breath underwater and much more. In the meantime, Jay’s coping up with his temperamental single mother Kristy Moriarty (Elisabeth Shue), trying to get close to his childhood crush, Kim (Leven Rambin) and an ego clash with his friend Blond (Devin Crittenden). Frosty, too, has quite a few things on his plate. He cannot get himself to concentrate on his family. Surfing is his source of escapism and a way to forget his own personal trials and tribulations. His wife, Brenda Hesson (Abigail Spencer) keeps trying to get close to Frosty but to no avail. The film has too many side-plots. The predominant premise is the relationship between Frosty and Jay, but there are just too many unwanted aberrations. Jay’s relationship with his mother has been dealt with in a fine manner. However, the romantic angle with Kim seemed quite long-drawn. Frosty’s equation with wife too has been presented quite nicely. However, the problem with having too many side stories is that you need to logically conclude each of them by the end of the film. This led to the 2-hour-long duration and frankly, the film doesn’t engage you till that long. The visuals are absolutely breath-taking. The surfing sequences are excellently performed and shot. Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston deliver fine performances. The final 15-20 minutes of the film, packed with stunning visuals and a gripping background score, keep you on the edge of your seat. The ending gets a bit emotional and more or less, covers up for the intermittent flaws. ‘Chasing Mavericks’ is not at all a bad film. It gets a bit slow in the middle but keep the patience, it ends on a high. It is definitely worth a DVD rental, if not a theatre viewing. Shivom Oza
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byredskinfan10 May 23, 2013

Chasing Mavericks

This movie was about a young boy who didn't have a bad and grew up in a home without a dad and in a very small home. He find him self finding his neighbor acting like a dad to him. He was planning on reaching a goal so big it took allot of training. He gets to his goal and fails nut doesn't give up.
What other families should know
Great role models


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