After graduating from high school, Eric Rivers (Mike Vogel) and his friends Matt (Vince Vieluf) and Dustin (Adam Brody) are desperate to gain “sponsors” and become professional skateboarders. They hope to achieve this goal by persuading professional skater Jimmy Wilson (Jason London) to look at their demo tape, but it turns out thousands of other kids from across the country have the same idea. As a last resort, Eric persuades the others to start their own skate team and follow Jimmy on his tour across his country, in the hope of bringing their skills to his attention.
Review by Jake Wilson:
Even skateboard-obsessed twelve-year-old boys are unlikely to be more than mildly enthusiastic about this tame youth comedy that tries to be hip to the skate scene and fails miserably (as soon as the heroes dub themselves the “Super Duper Team”, you know the filmmakers are in trouble).
There’s a real lack of scriptwriting nous: time and again, easy punchlines are set up but not articulated, and potentially funny scenes are allowed to trail off in weak ad-libs. Similarly, aside from a brief Sergio Leone parody the visual style is functional at best, incompetent at worst: the cross-cutting between staged fictional scenes and documentary footage of actual skating champions is particularly clumsy.
For whatever it’s worth, the film’s strongest suit is its feeling for male camaraderie, channelled in particular through Vince Vieluf’s mugging and pouting as the wild man of the group. With his ambivalence towards women and penchant for flirtatious horseplay, this character often seems like a flat-out closet case; while it’s hard to tell how far this was intended, there are quite a few blatantly homoerotic touches, including a scene where the guys rent a “honeymoon suite” and chat to each other in intimately framed close-ups. Meanwhile, girls are restricted to walk-on parts as interchangable busty bunnies, though there’s an unconvincing gesture towards feminism late in the piece.
Above all, in contrast to the best of the non-narrative “skate videos” that have circulated since the 80s, Grind conveys little real passion for skateboarding as such. Instead, the resentment which the heroes feel at being deprived of professional sponsorship and its perks (money, sex, fame) suggests a satiric take on the commercial interests which hold sway over this supposedly rebellious sport. But if the irony is half-conscious it’s wholly forgotten by the end – where Eric gets his wish and is transformed into a mini-celebrity, looking down from a great height on fans of his own.
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CAST: Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf , Adam Brody, Joey Kern, Jennifer Morrison, Jason London
PRODUCER: Bill Gerber, Casey La Scala, Hunt Lowry
DIRECTOR: Casey La Scala
SCRIPT: Ralph Sall
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Richard Crudo
EDITOR: Eric Strand
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Perry Andelin Blake
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 26, 2004