Directed by: Casey La Scala
Starring: Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf, Adam Brody, Joey Kern, Jennifer Morrison, Randy Quaid
Grind is so-o-o-o-o eezer, dudes, you'll want to bail before anybody you know catches you vamanosing out of the theater. The film has a few redeeming qualities, though, that might make you want to see it for free on cable TV.
What little skateboarding footage there is, is awesome. The soundtrack, too, is rad. Two of the blonde-boy leads are kinda cute in a tepid way: young Eric Rivers (Mike Vogel in his feature film debut) and the slightly older ladies man Sweet Lou (Joey Kern, Cabin Fever). Their weird friend Matt (Vince Vieluf, Rat Race), with his Mick Jagger lips and dinosaur tongue, gives an off-the-wall performance that is so Jackass gross that he's bound for stardom of some sort; one day, cinema buffs might view this awful film with curiosity, for his first starring role. And Randy Quaid (Carolina), one of my favorite actors, turns in a delightfully idiotic cameo as Vieluf's circus-clown father.
There are several reasons why Grind is more a wipeout than a perfect ollie. First of all, there are the endless jokes about bakin' brownies, doing pudgemuffins and other variations on the flatulence theme that are so annoying, you just want to scream at the screenwriter to "grow up already!" Except for the instant intimacy the two blond boys manage to find before the movie ends, most of the women in the movie are brainless skuts (skateboard groupies) who serve no purpose but to advertise the cosmic variety of cleavage available in skateboard parks. Blame the immaturity of first-time director Casey La Scala for this hackneyed perspective on women.
But the worst part of Grind is that it takes a gnarly extreme sport -- competitive skateboarding -- and makes it boring.
The story is a witless variation on every road movie ever made. In this case, three high-school seniors (including Adam Brody, American Pie 2) and their older buddy risk everything and head out on the skateboarding circuit in the hopes of getting a commercial sponsor so they can compete with the big guys. Disaster follows disaster on their trip from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif. Our heroes are close to zonking until the screenwriter makes them spout platitudes about friendship and loyalty, and then they venture forth one last time. What follows is the toobular skateboarding duel we've been waiting the whole darn movie to see. Bayooa, dudes! Then new champion, Eric, finally kisses the girl skater, Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends: Final Cut), who turns out to be the only person in the movie who acts like an adult.
What's missing throughout Grind is the blood and guts of skateboarding -- the thrill of the ride, the ecstasy of escaping gravity, the pure pleasure of being stoked on the board. Alas, fans of the sport must continue to wait for a skateboard flick that's wixed and wolfin.
-- reviewed by Marci Miller