2012 Certificate: pg


Hollywood makes inspirational waves with the story of real-life surfing hero Jay Moriarity who, as a fearless 15-year-old, set out to conquer the biggest, baddest breakers of them all: California's mighty 'Mavericks'. Newcomer Jonny Weston makes an earnest and engaging Jay while Gerard Butler provides sure-footed support as Frosty, the Santa Cruz surf king who becomes his father figure, friend and mentor. The boys have as many personal challenges to deal with as natural ones, but directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted pool their experience to keep the balance between action and drama.


  • Curtis Hanson

  • Michael Apted


  • Gerard Butler

  • Jonny Weston

  • Leven Rambin

  • Elisabeth Shue

  • Abigail Spencer


Wax on, wax off. The mantra might have been coined for another kid who took the Californian coast by storm, but swap black belts for surf gear and it couldn't be more appropriate here.

Cute teen learns to master his sport from a philosophical and fatherly guru. Expanding body and mind on his journey to self-discovery, he must also sort out issues with local bullies, his single mum and the pretty girl next door.

With one of the latter played by Elisabeth Shue and the action set in the mid-80s, all that's missing are the chopsticks.

Another thing it has in common with the original Karate Kid is an appealing lead in sun-kissed newcomer Jonny Weston. He plays Jay Moriarity, a teenage surf nut who becomes a legend after taking on the mystical 'Mavericks' wave front north of Santa Cruz.

This he does under the tutelage of local surf god Frosty (Butler), whose training methods and philosophies embrace those of great mentors from Yoda and Mr Miyagi to Mr Quint, the salty skipper from Jaws. Watch, listen and respect he must, or regret he will.

Sea. Dangerous. Got it.

One look at all those dirty great waves should be enough to tell anyone that. Unfortunately, while the action is pure surfboard, the dialogue comes straight from the cheeseboard.

But in celebrating a life less ordinary, everyone involved is clearly more interested in carpe diem than critical carping.

Butler and Weston forge a credible bond, with able on-shore support coming from Abigail Spencer as Frosty's saintly wife, Hunger Gamer Leven Rambin as Jay's sweetheart and, of course, yummy mummy Shue.

Moriarity's story is all about getting out there, following your heart and living your dream. Right on, dude. But it also brings to mind something the outlaw Josey Wales once said: "Dying ain't much of a living, boy."

Elliott Noble