Until Lewis Beale reminded me this morning about Curtis Hanson‘s Chasing Mavericks (20th Century Fox/Walden Media, 10.26), I hadn’t paid the slightest attention. It wasn’t even a blip, although I’m told that an LA screening may happen tomorrow. It’s unfair to generalize, but by today’s yardstick the more “inspirational” a sports drama seems to be the worse it probably is. I think I could live with never seeing another film about a young, starry-eyed athlete looking to capture a dream ever again.

Obviously this story of late surfing legend Jay Moriarity (who died just before his 23rd birthday on 6.15.01) didn’t pan out. And it reps a hard-luck episode for Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile, In Her Shoes, Too Big To Fail) as he was unable to complete directing chores due to heart troubles. Michael Apted oversaw the last two weeks of filming.

The trailer tells us some of the inspirational lines spoken by Gerard Butler‘s Frosty Hesson character (and written by Kario Salem) are agony. I can’t understand how Hanson, who knows from good dialogue, didn’t refine or rewrite or just toss them out.

The only surfing dramas I’ve felt anything for were John Milius‘s Big Wednesday, Kathryn Bigelow‘s Point Break and John Stockwell‘s Blue Crush.

Why did Moriarity have to have five syllables in his last name? Why couldn’t he settle for four? Four was good enough for Drew McWeeeny when he was known as “Moriarty.” People don’t like five-syllable last names.

Can a case made for a growing suspicion that any film costarring Butler is either bad or underwhelming or minor or cursed? Gamer, Law Abiding Citizen, The Bounty Hunter, Machine Gun Preacher, Playing For Keeps, Movie 43…all negligible.

An apparently non-professional critic named David Clayton wrote the following on Rotten Tomatoes:

“All these surfing films are the same — deep philosophy & respect for the waves, spectacular footage as boards & surfers race inside massive walls of water, but the story is landlocked & caught up in simplistic, melodramatic plot devices. This one’s based on a true story & the performances by leads Gerard Butler & John Weston are fine. I just wish the conventional romance, dealing with daddy issues, bullies & an alcoholic mother were skipped over since they leaden the plot with very predictable outcomes. I did enjoy the 90’s soundtrack (haven’t heard Butthole Surfers & Mazzy Star in a long while!), but coming from acclaimed directors Curtis Hanson & Michael Apted, I hoped for so much more.”

From the Wiki page: “Born in Georgia in 1978, Jay Moriarity and his family moved to Santa Cruz, California, soon after his birth. His father was a Green Beret parachutist and a surfer, who introduced his son to surfing when he was 9 years-old. He immediately took to surfing and quickly became a respected surfer in Santa Cruz. Not limited to either a shortboard or a longboard, he was known as a versatile surfer who appreciated all aspects of surfing. This appreciation was rooted in an overall love for the ocean, seen in his accomplishments as a swimmer, paddler, diver, and fisherman.

“Achieving success in surfing as a youngster, he became increasingly interested in surfing Mavericks, north of Santa Cruz in Half Moon Bay. After intense physical and mental training with his mentor and close friend and Mavericks regular Frosty Hesson, he began surfing Mavericks at 16 years of age, and soon became a respected regular in the line-up.

“In 2001, Moriarity co-authored a book with Chris Gallagher entitled, The Ultimate Guide to Surfing.

“Moriarity died a day before his 23 birthday on June 15, 2001, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the island Lohifushi in the Maldives, drowning in an apparent diving accident. In Lohifushi for an O’Neill photo shoot, he went free-diving alone but was not seen after. A search party recovered his body late Friday night. Moriarity left behind his wife Kim Moriarity.”