Metascore
45

Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 27
  2. Negative: 4 out of 27
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    The surfing sequences are some of the best I've ever seen in a film, and the re-creation of Jay's climactic battle to ride El Nino-driven waves is real white-knuckle stuff...But neither Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") nor the fellow veteran director who replaced him when Hanson took ill, Michael Apted ("Gorillas in the Mist"), can do much with the hokey sequences on land.
  2. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    So at the very least, audiences will come away from Chasing Mavericks with a deeper understanding of surfing and an appreciation for surfers.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    Ultimately the story of Jay Moriarity, who died tragically in a diving accident at 22, is a moving one, and he deserved a better tribute than this film.
  4. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    Come for the surfing. Stay for the sainthood.
  5. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Oct 24, 2012
    50
    If you've seen the 2006 Nick Nolte vehicle "Peaceful Warrior," then you've pretty much already seen this. Capturing the essence of surfing – or any sport, for that matter – is more often than not a fool's errand. A more fitting tribute to Moriarty's legacy? Go buy a board and hit the deep blue yourself.
  6. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    When the movie works, its buoyancy can be infectious and persuasive.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 26, 2012
    50
    There's lots of extraneous plotting -- which, however fact based, is handled in such a pre-fab manner that it feels phony.
  8. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Oct 27, 2012
    60
    The film wants to be inspiring, when it might have been cosmic-a far greater ambition. Tossing boats and dreamers, the huge waves perform beautifully.
  9. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    The outstanding big-wave footage proves more credible than the overfamiliar dramatics in Chasing Mavericks.
  10. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    The footage itself, particularly of the surf, is spectacular, with veteran cinematographer Bill Pope handling the camerawork. But the drama is soggy, overreaching for the heartfelt and overdoing the inspirational.
  11. Reviewed by: M. E. Russell
    Oct 25, 2012
    58
    The surfing scenes are gorgeous and overwhelming. But the rest of the film...
  12. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Oct 25, 2012
    40
    In 1994, 16-year-old surfer Jay Moriarity braved the biggest waves ever seen off the coast of Northern California. His biopic, Chasing Mavericks, gets that fact right but changes everything else about his life in order to bowl audiences over in a saccharine tsunami.
  13. Reviewed by: Henry Barnes
    Jul 5, 2013
    40
    The script's a drowner, the acting's awash. Again and again Butler returns to the sea. He just about survives the buffeting.
  14. Reviewed by: Ken McIntyre
    Jul 5, 2013
    60
    By the time it’s over, you’ll either be heading for the beach or vowing never to go in the water again.
  15. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Oct 27, 2012
    40
    It's a perfect fortune cookie of a movie, full of bland life lessons for everybody; would that there were some drama or style in it somewhere along the way.
  16. Reviewed by: Darren Franich
    Oct 26, 2012
    50
    In attempting to honor their subject, the filmmakers also sap the life out of a potentially thrilling story.
  17. Reviewed by: Michael Posner
    Oct 25, 2012
    50
    I don't know if you have to be a surfer to fully appreciate Chasing Mavericks, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.
  18. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Oct 25, 2012
    40
    A greeting card set in motion, Chasing Mavericks cheeses up the story of real-life surfing phenom Jay Moriarity so thickly you could spread it on a cracker.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 4
  2. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Oct 27, 2012
    8
    As a late-blooming (yet bona fide) beach bum, The Hawk was anxious to catch Chasing Mavericks on the big screen before its inevitable quickAs a late-blooming (yet bona fide) beach bum, The Hawk was anxious to catch Chasing Mavericks on the big screen before its inevitable quick turnover to dvd. Fully knowing that this one would not be a potential Oscar contender in a any category what-so-ever, and that the family-friendly film would likely have a routine, formulaic dramatic arc to it, with few (if any) surprises, didn't matter at all. If its got gigantic, ocean waves in it, with pro surfers taking them on like bareback bronco riders in a wild west show, The Hawk would be there. This true story of a young 16 yr-old surfing prodigy and his courage to face one of the largest waves ever recorded on film was a thrillingly inspirational experience. However,...if you're looking for a flick that fits the definition of film as art that will remain in your mind for years to come for its originality and creativity,... one will need to look elsewhere.

    Despite its one-dimensional characters and strictly perfunctory direction and acting, the jaw-dropping. hardcore, surfing scenes (of which there are many) are beautifully shot, giving a graphic sensation of the power and majesty of the ocean surf like no film that I've seen before. The cinematography in this film both made me want to jump right into the thick of it, as well as stay as far away as possible from the danger and terror of the ocean's insurmountable power as I could get, all at once. One has no choice but to be impressed with the courage and confidence these athletes must have in order to take on such monstrously treacherous dragons that these infamous waves at legendary Mavericks near Santa Cruz, CA are.

    Chasing Mavericks is very hard not to like, if you love being on, in, and around the ocean as much as I do. Even those whose idea of going to the beach is limited to eating boardwalk fries, riding carnival attractions, and building sandcastles will likely appreciate the magical setting of the west coast shore and those that take to riding its wildest waves like water cowboys on untamed stallions. Grade = B.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 13, 2014
    4
    "Chasing Mavericks" 10 Scale Rating: 4.5 (Mediocre) ...

    The Good: Intense and well done surfing scenes. I'm not even into surfing, but was
    "Chasing Mavericks" 10 Scale Rating: 4.5 (Mediocre) ...

    The Good: Intense and well done surfing scenes. I'm not even into surfing, but was still extremely entertained by these scenes. The real story behind the film is a pretty interesting one and I can understand why they wanted to make a movie about it.

    The Bad: Pretty hollow, which is unacceptable for this sort of film. Lacks heart, emotion, and with the exception of the surfing scenes, any real energy. Aside from Butler, most of the acting was well below average.
    Full Review »
  3. Apr 28, 2013
    5
    The film may serve as an inspiration to many, but too many scenes feel empty.