Chasing Mavericks: How Does It End?

I wrote several weeks ago about enjoying the free private showing of the Clint Eastwood movie Trouble With the Curve on the Hampton Ambassador. This week I intend to write about another movie I saw on the bus called Chasing Mavericks. The Hampton Ambassador, a rolling movie theater, shows movies on every bus trip to Manhattan and back. Some of them are pretty good.

Chasing Mavericks is not as good as Trouble With the Curve, however, and so I didn’t buy a copy of it afterwards at Best Buy, which is what I did with Trouble With the Curve.

But there was something else about Chasing Mavericks that I think worth telling you about, and that is it rises up to a very grand crescendo at the end and I never got to see it. Twice that happened.

Here’s the story. I hopped on the bus at Southampton. It’s a two-hour ride to Manhattan, and then another 30 minutes to 86th Street, where I live in the city. That gives you a full two-and-a-half-hour window, plenty of time, to watch almost any movie. Of course, the attendant on board doesn’t fire up the movie until after he or she has welcomed everybody on board, made some announcements and collected the fares. They also give out drinks, newspapers and food during the trip, but this is usually after they’ve started the movie.

Chasing Mavericks is a surfing movie made in California about a boy who wants to ride the big waves, particularly the really big ones 20 and 30 feet tall that come in about once every six months at a place called Mavericks. It is something of a documentary about a young surfer dude in California who was a spectacular surfer since the age of 15 but then died in an accident at 22 after setting all sorts of records.

Jay Moriarity, at nine years of age, is played by Cooper Timberline. He lives with his mom in a small house in a Los Angeles suburb, and he has already fallen in love with surfing. He’s got posters on the wall. He follows other surfers around like a lost puppy. He gets a broken board and he tapes it together, then runs after an older surfer driving a Volkswagen bus, leaps on the back without the surfer knowing and gets taken out to the beach. It’s six in the morning.

A bond of friendship is formed between this older surfer, played by Gerard Butler, and the young dude. The older surfer rescues the kid when he falls off while paddling out into some waves. Then there is a scene where the kid is now 15 and doing really well with his surfing. He wants to surf Mavericks.

“That’s not going to happen,” the older surfer says. “You may think you are good, but you have to surf for years and years to get good enough to surf Mavericks.”

I think you see where this is going.

There are a few puppy love affairs in the plot, and the older surfer has some trouble at home with his wife too, but they get through.

And then, sure enough, the 6 a.m. weather forecast over the radio says that for the first time in ten months, Mavericks is coming. It’s not going to be 20-foot waves or even 30-foot waves. It’s going to be 40-foot waves. This is everything the kid has been waiting for. He runs to the older surfer’s place. This guy is already up, of course. He too can’t wait to get out there. And no, the young kid is not going to be allowed to surf it. He’s not ready. But he is ready, the kid says. And so after some backing and forthing, out the door they go, the two of them, and into the Volkswagen and up the two-lane windy road of U.S. 1 along the coast toward this secret inlet where Mavericks is shortly going to be thundering in.

And that’s when the bus arrived at 86th Street, and I had to get off. I dawdled a bit at the door. They were still twisting along heading up there. I got shooed off in a nice way. They had to press on.

I felt bad I never got to see the end of this movie. I sort of made up the ending. In my ending, both surfers go in the water, and the kid gets in trouble. The older surfer goes over to rescue the kid—everybody on the shore is highly troubled by what is going on—but then the older surfer gets in trouble, and it is the kid who has to rescue the older surfer. That was the ending I made up. I liked that ending. It satisfied me enough that I was able to put my failure to see the end of this movie behind me—it is rare that a movie doesn’t finish before the ride is over—but I was satisfied. I wasn’t going to have to buy a copy of it or Netflix it.

And then a really odd thing happened. Usually there are different movies shown on different days aboard the Hampton Ambassador. Sometimes they even show movies before they premiere in the theatres. Three days later, however, heading back out to the Hamptons, I boarded my bus at 86th Street and soon learned from the attendant that the name of the movie on this trip was Chasing Mavericks.

I watched this stewardess do her thing as we stopped at 70th Street and 59th Street and 40th Street to pick up passengers before heading out. She was friendly. She was efficient. It seemed to me I could do other things besides watch this movie, since I’d seen this film before, but then, coming through Shinnecock, I’d look in at it to see how far along it was and, with any luck, it would get through the grand finale just before I had to get off.

Sure enough, the scene where they are in the VW bus going up the coast happened just as we were crossing the Shinnecock Canal. I was going to see more of it. I’d get to see the end.

They arrive at the cliff where Mavericks is coming in as we pass Lobster Grille Inn. The surfers get out of the car. Then the kid carries his board down the cliff face to the beach where the biggest goddamn waves I have ever seen are coming in. The older surfer, however, has not climbed down the cliff face. He has stayed up top with his wife and the kid’s mother. But he has binoculars. Both are very concerned for the kid. He struggles to get out through the surf with his board. He doesn’t make it. He is pushed back. The grown-ups are concerned. He pushes through again. We pass Tortorella Pools. He gets thrown back still again. His mother wipes away a tear.

We pass Southampton College. And now, with some little twists and good surfer moves, he gets through the huge seas and now he is paddling and paddling higher and higher up the front side of the biggest wave in the history of the world—and he is just about to get over when—we pass Dan’s Papers—he begins to fall back and then he really REALLY falls back, and again we see the grown-ups and again we see him and this enormous wave, the biggest most humungous one in history ever, rise up and just pound him down into the raging sea, separating him from his board, which rises straight up in the air in slow motion to show, in case you just missed it, that there is no more little surfer dude anymore and he is gone and now, with the spray going everywhere and with the grown-ups sniveling and biting their lips and looking away, we pull into the Omni in Southampton and now I have to get off the bus.

If anyone knows how this movie ends, could they please let me know?


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