“Chasing Mavericks” (PG): Kids 12 and older who love water sports in general and surfing in particular may stay awake through this slow-moving true-life saga. Based on the life of the late Santa Cruz, Calif., surfing phenom Jay Moriarty, the film dramatizes his relationship from boyhood with his surfing mentor and father figure Frosty Hesson. We meet Jay as an 8-year-old (Cooper Timberline) in 1987, already obsessed with waves hitting the rocks off Santa Cruz. He gets washed away and Frosty (Gerard Butler) rescues him. That’s how they meet. Jump ahead seven years and Jay (Jonny Weston) is now a 15-year-old and already a great surfer. He’s a good kid, too, parenting his irresponsible single mom (Elisabeth Shue), and working at a pizza joint after school. He has a crush on Kim (Leven Rambin), but she’s a bit older. She ignores him in school and treats him as a mere friend outside school. Jay, whose own father abandoned the family, worships Frosty. Married with kids and issues of his own, Frosty isn’t eager to be Jay’s mentor. One day Jay hitches onto Frosty’s van as the seasoned surfer heads out to a “secret” beach to catch a giant, near-mythic wave known as the Mavericks. Jay begs Frosty to train him to ride and survive the Mavericks and Frosty agrees, saying he wouldn’t want the kid’s death on his conscience. We follow his training – for ages.
Jay gets bloodied once or twice on the rocks and disappears under water for nerve-wracking stretches. He and Frosty encounter a shark, but it leaves them alone. Jay’s mother is pushed around by a man – perhaps their landlord – and Jay throws him out. A supporting character dies on-camera of a stroke. We see an implied drug purchase by a teen. A bully harasses Jay and refers to him as “trash.”
“Fun Size” (PG-13): Lots of high-schoolers will be amused by this raucous Halloween farce. It may be too crude for middle-schoolers. Parents may be disturbed that the story hinges on a young boy of perhaps 6 who wanders off on Halloween. Wren (Victoria Justice of “Victorious” on Nickelodeon) is a nice teen in a Cleveland suburb. She’s a brain – her idea of a great Halloween costume is to go as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her dad died about a year ago, and her sugar-addicted little brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) hasn’t spoken since. Her mother (Chelsea Handler) has taken to dating losers many years her junior. Wren’s equally brainy pal Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) adores her, but is afraid to admit it. Out trick-or-treating with her best friend April (Jane Levy), Wren must also watch out for little Albert, who goes as a mini Spider-Man with a bloody stump for an arm. April just wants to get to the party given by their school’s coolest hunk Aaron (Thomas McDonell).
But while they visit a haunted house, Albert goes missing. The rest of the film cuts among Wren and Roosevelt trying to find Albert, Wren’s mom having an awful time at her date’s parents’ house, and Albert’s adventures with Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch), a ditzy convenience store clerk, and Fuzzy’s ex-girlfriend’s drunk, nasty new boyfriend (Johnny Knoxville).
A child says the line, “You’re not my mommy, ‘rhymes-with-witch!’” Characters prank someone with fire crackers and doggie poop. Knoxville’s character physically threatens Albert. The script includes sexual innuendo – April offers to let a guy “touch my boobs” – and barely subtle jokes about child molestation. There is occasional crude language, mild profanity and toilet humor. An adult character drinks and drives.
“Cloud Atlas” (R): Somewhere inside this huge, lumbering epic lurk two or three good little movies. But film buffs 16 and older will need a shovel to dig them out of the cinematic mulch in which they’re buried in this adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel. It’s likely that the heavy-hitting cast, who all play multiple characters under much face-altering makeup, had more fun making this movie than audiences will have watching it. Even so, some teens 16 and older will find profundity in the nearly three-hour marathon that is “Cloud Atlas,” with its storylines that arc across the ages, linking characters through karma and genetics, and their quests to escape oppression, find love, and make the world better.
On-screen violence includes stabbings, throat-slittings, gun violence, gun suicide, the whipping of a slave, and a character tossed to his death off a high- rise. A doctor poisons a patient in one storyline. A couple of sexual situations become semi-explicit, some with nudity. One romantic subplot implies a sexual relationship between two men in an era when public knowledge of it would make them pariahs. The script contains profanity, and various characters drink, smoke and use marijuana.