It was the final film directed by Hanson before his death on September 20, 2016.
In 1987, an 8-year-old boy in Santa Cruz, California, Jay Moriarity, is saved from drowning by his next door neighbor, surfer Frosty Hesson (Gerard Butler). This ignites his passion for the sport.
One morning, Jay (Jonny Weston), now 15, sees Frosty leaving early and hitches a ride on his van. He sees Frosty and three of his friends riding a gigantic swell known as Mavericks, which with El Niño coming in will be at its height in three months' time.
Reluctantly, Frosty agrees to teach Jay how to surf Mavericks, but insists that Jay learn about the "foundation pillars of surfing". These involve him learning to paddle board 36 miles from Santa Cruz to Monterey Bay, treading water for 40 minutes and being able to hold his breath for four minutes.
While training, Frosty encourages Jay to write essays to focus on the task. His first essay is about Kim (Leven Rambin), his crush, whose dog he saved when he was 8, which caused him to nearly drown. Jay gets closer to Kim as he trains, partially encouraged by Frosty's wife, Brenda (Abigail Spencer). A few weeks before the biggest swell of the season hits Mavericks, Brenda has a stroke and dies.
A few days later, distraught from Brenda's death, Frosty paddles out into the bay. Jay follows him, and using the knowledge from his training, he helps Frosty back to shore. Frosty realizes that Jay is ready to ride Mavericks. Frosty takes Jay to Mavericks at Half Moon Bay and watches with his three friends as Jay treads water against the tide. The group agrees that Jay is ready to ride with them.
For Jay's 16th birthday on June 15, 1994, his mother (Elisabeth Shue) gives him a radio so he can listen to the weather broadcasts and track the swell. Frosty gives him a custom-made "big wave gun" (a long surfboard especially designed for riding big waves). Kim reveals her feelings for him and they share a kiss.
Frosty had wanted to keep Mavericks a secret, but Jay's notebook that he had been using for preparation ends up in the hands of his rival (Taylor Handley). When Jay and Frosty go to Half Moon Bay, there is a large crowd and boats taking surfers out.
Many of the newcomers wipe out before getting to surf Mavericks. Jay wipes out at first, but then retrieves his board and successfully rides Mavericks. A title card reveals that he married Kim and died at age 22 while free-diving in the Maldives. The film ends with Frosty, Kim, and an assemblage of others holding a surfers' memorial service for Jay.Jonny Weston as Jay Moriarity
Gerard Butler as Frosty Hesson
Elisabeth Shue as Kristy Moriarity
Abigail Spencer as Brenda Hesson
Leven Rambin as Kim
Greg Long as Magnificent 1
Peter Mel as Magnificent 2
Zach Wormhoudt as Magnificent 3
Devin Crittenden as Blond
Taylor Handley as Sonny
Cooper Timberline as Young Jay
Harley Graham as Young Kim
Scott Eastwood as Gordy (uncredited)
Colter Sanders as Alexander (uncredited)
Patrick and Asher Tesler as infant Lake Hesson (uncredited)
The film went into production in October 2011 with a scheduled release date of October 26, 2012. On December 19, Gerard Butler was hospitalised briefly after being injured during a surfing stunt. Gerard Butler was mentored by big-wave surfer Grant Washburn. Michael Apted received second-position director credit for this film because he took over as director during the last 15 days of principal photography, while Curtis Hanson recovered from complications arising from recent heart surgery.Other songs used in the film
The Offspring – "Come Out and Play"
Jules Larson – "Honey Baby"
The film has received mixed reviews from critics. It received a 45% rating from Metacritic. Roger Ebert praised the film, saying that "Chasing Mavericks is made with more care and intelligence than many another film starting with its template might have been. It's better than most movies targeted at teens. And the cinematography of the big Mavericks scene by Oliver Euclid and Bill Pope is so frightening that you sort of understand why Frosty stays on the shore, watching Jay with binoculars." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 31% based on 79 reviews, with the consensus stating: "It's sweet, gentle, and affably modest, but Chasing Mavericks is ultimately pulled under by an unconvincing script and a puzzling lack of energy."
Chasing Mavericks was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 26, 2013.
In October 2012, Frosty Hesson published Making Mavericks with Zola Books. The book is a memoir filled with Hesson's life-affirming lessons and described his experience mentoring Jay Moriarity.