There have been a spate of movies centered around extreme sports these days, (See: Blue Crush, xXX, Ultimate X, Dogtown and Z Boys) so it comes as no shock that the new skateboarding movie Grind is coming out now. You don't have to know how to do a 360 McTwist to enjoy the movie, but there's not a whole lot to enjoy.
Grind centers around the lives of 4 misguided youths, recent high-school graduates, trying to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They basically want to become a part of the skateboarding elite who skate for a living, but there's a problem: They have to get noticed first. So they take off on a summer road trip, following the tour of the top-dog skater Jimmy Wilson, played by Jason London although I barely recognized it was him until the end, trying to get noticed and sponsored, so they can live out their dreams and bring peace and understanding to a world where being different means......wait a minute. Dude, they just wanna skate, man.
So who is this ragtag bunch of miscreants? Well, the "leader" is Eric (Vogel) who knows he's da bomb skater and wants to prove it to the world, well, the skating world at least. Then there's Dustin (Brody) who wants to go to college in the fall, but at the same time has a need to skate. Rounding out the quartet are characters that are eerily familiar. Matt (Vieluf) is the hornball of the group who will say anything at any time, and whose look, demeanor and even his voice reminds me of James DeBello's character Trip from Detroit Rock City. Didn't catch that movie? Most didn't. But the next character might be more familiar. Sweet Lou (Kern), which is an awesome name by the way, is the resident "player." He just oozes cool, even having a different girl for each day of the week. He is hesitant about leaving on the road trip because he has all he needs there, including newer, younger chicks. It's almost a complete replica of Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson from Dazed and Confused. "I get older, they stay the same age," remember? Yeah. There's also a hot chick (Morrison) and a bunch of pro skaters like Bam Margera of Jackass fame and Bob Burnquist, among others.
The acting here isn't incredible, but what do you expect? Adam Brody is great as the skeptical, college-bound Dustin. And before you think, "Didn't that guy win Best Actor this year?" that was Adrian Brody. This is Adam Brody, and he's pretty damn funny. He has a Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) sort of quality to him in how he can be funny just by his mannerisms and delivery, no matter what the line is he's saying. Joey Kern is also pretty good as Sweet Lou, but the rest of the quartet fall way below the quarter-pipe. Jennifer Morrison has a token role as a love interest, and she doesn't do much with it, to boot.If you love skateboarding, though, there's no reason you shouldn't go to this movie, just for the skateboarding. There are some incredible skating displays, enhanced by an ultra-cool sountrack, put on throughout the movie that will make even the skater-hater realize how insane and hard of a sport this can be.
The movie is written, and I use that term loosely, by Ralph Sall, who has previously paid his rent as a music supervisor and composer in Hollywood for the past 13 years. This movie has a very simple plot with as many cliches as you can possibly throw in. True, there is some funny parts in it, but thats almost entirely due to Brody's and Kern's performances, because on paper the jokes would've looked like they came out of a 1-800 Collect commercial. The story is predictable, and at times pretty damn boring because it seems to rely on the skateboarding scenes to carry the whole movie. The skating is great, but they could've tried a little harder to drum up a story around it besides one of those "I'm following my dream, no matter what" stories.
Director Casey La Scalla must have been out sick for, well, all of the movie. There is hardly any structure to the movie, horrible editing and the movie just feels like a big grade-school recess where all these skaters just showed up, did some cool tricks, said some funny stuff and left. If any movie had the feel of a director making his feature-film debut, it was this movie. Of course, La Scalla was making his feature-film debut, which is not surprising at all.Grind is a movie about skateboarding. Plain and simple. If you leave it at that, it's not too bad of a way to blow some cash on a hot summer day. If nothing else, the theater has AC, right?