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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Chasing Mavericks

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston star in a scene from the movie "Chasing Mavericks."
Surf's up in "Chasing Mavericks" (Fox), a thrilling action film about daredevil surfers who take on some of the biggest waves in the world, while rebuilding their own broken lives in the process.

The picture also offers viewers—particularly teens—a refreshingly positive role model in the person of a young man who, despite a mountain of obstacles, inspires others with his inherent sense of goodness, perseverance and self-discipline.

Jointly directed by Curtis Hansen and Michael Apted, "Chasing Mavericks" is based on the true story of Californian Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston). At the tender age of 15, Jay attempted to surf the Mavericks, a famously formidable coastal spot located near the Golden State's Half Moon Bay.

Jay is shown to have the weight of the world on his young shoulders. His father has moved out, and his depressed mother, Kristy (Elisabeth Shue), is a drunken mess. Summoning a maturity beyond his years, Jay must act as parent and breadwinner, sobering his mother up for job interviews while working overtime at a pizza parlor to make ends meet.

Compounding his problems is the situation at his high school, where he is bullied for being poor, and can't seem to catch the eye of pretty schoolmate Kim (Leven Rambin).

And yet Jay keeps turning the other cheek and looking ahead, leaving his peers puzzled. "You always smile," Kim tells him. "You only see the good in everything."

What keeps Jay going—and makes others jealous—is his natural gift for surfing. The water transforms him in a baptismal way, fueling Jay's desire to use his God-given talents for the betterment of others. Thus it's no surprise that at one point we see him floating underwater, arms outstretched in a pose that suggests the role of a redeemer.

Jay finds a kindred spirit in his next-door neighbor, Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). He's the ultimate surfer dude who has family issues of his own. His wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer), prays that Frosty will eventually accept responsibility and become a better husband and father.

Frosty's obsession with the Mavericks rubs off on Jay, and after much pestering, he agrees to train the teen in the art of big wave surfing. Frosty becomes Yoda to Jay's Luke Skywalker, teaching him the "four pillars of a solid human foundation"—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

"Chasing Mavericks" features some spectacular cinematography, placing audiences on the surfboard and above and under the waves. Surfing becomes much more than a sport, as the duo learns to overcome fears, face grief, resolve conflicts, and rebuild relationships.

Not surprisingly, "Live like Jay" has become a popular motto among surfers; perhaps now it will catch on with moviegoers as well.

The film contains intense sports scenes and some emotionally challenging moments. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Oliver Plunkett: The name of today's saint is especially familiar to the Irish and the English—and with good reason. The English martyred Oliver Plunkett for defending the faith in his native Ireland during a period of severe persecution. 
<p>Born in County Meath in 1629, he studied for the priesthood in Rome and was ordained there in 1654. After some years of teaching and service to the poor of Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland. Four years later, in 1673, a new wave of anti-Catholic persecution began, forcing Archbishop Plunkett to do his pastoral work in secrecy and disguise and to live in hiding. Meanwhile, many of his priests were sent into exile; schools were closed; Church services had to be held in secret and convents and seminaries were suppressed. As archbishop, he was viewed as ultimately responsible for any rebellion or political activity among his parishioners. 
</p><p>Archbishop Plunkett was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679, but his trial was moved to London. After deliberating for 15 minutes, a jury found him guilty of fomenting revolt. He was hanged, drawn and quartered in July 1681. 
</p><p>Pope Paul VI canonized Oliver Plunkett in 1975.</p> American Catholic Blog God had a plan even before he created Adam and Eve. God is never caught off guard. He knows all. He sees all. And he is working all things together for the good of his children. Nothing can stop his plan of mercy and love.

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