Grind (2003)

grindcast_wb1What do you do with a movie about skateboarders that hasn’t already been done? Fill it with the same lazy clichés we’ve seen thousands of times in worse comedy films. I mean has there ever been a good movie about skateboarding aside from “Dogtown and Z-Boys”? I doubt it. There are three elements/concepts films have revolved around and relied on for a plot in the past that have never worked regardless of how exciting they try to make it, and regardless of how good a director is: skiing (cannot be done), skateboarding, and computers or typing on a computer (FYI “Wargames” invented the sub-genre).

But I suspect this was an infomercial for skateboarding and somewhere along the line someone said “Extend it into a film with dialogue and characters.” a ploy just to advertise a lot of products and music with the facade of a movie. Sometimes I found myself laughing because there were many scenes in which the hard rock and pop soundtrack was louder than the actual dialogue of the characters; it reminded me a lot of “Not Another Teen Movie” in which the characters attempt to talk to one another while the dramatic soundtrack in the background drowns out their voice so they’re forced to yell. So, take a blond blue-eyed leading man, cover up his bland personality with the supporting characters: One is the geeky do-gooder, another is a stoner/goofy freak intended as comedic relief, rather weak comic relief, and have a Matthew McConaughey look-alike called “Sweet Louis” who looks as if he tried to pass himself off but failed miserably, and then what you do, see, is litter the entire film with walk on roles from better, funnier actors.

In this case there’s a countless list of shameless comedian cameos desperately hoping to rescue this film from the trash including such wasted talent as Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Tom Green, Randy Quaid, and Christopher McDonald. What a shame these talented folks were put to waste. No, I don’t think it’s possible that there ever was a good film involving skateboarding now that I think of it. Three wannabe skaters, all different personalities, as you’d guess, want to enter a pro-tournament and decide to follow their skating hero Jimmy Wilson across the country coming across conveniently comedic situations and many hot chicks.

Now, while hot chicks aren’t always bad, it’s horrible to focus on them while the three horrible leading characters pollute the screen. Well, maybe it’s not so much the actors as it is the horrible script with the badly developed recycled characters. The actors in question? Mike Vogel who plays the vapid leading man Eric Rivers, Vince Vieluf who is utterly obnoxious and stupid as Matt Jensen, Joey Kern as Sweet Lou who looks as if he’s imitating Matthew McConaughey’s character in “Dazed and Confused” (compare the two, it’s creepy), and of course, the always overrated Adam Brody from “The O.C.” playing Dustin Knight with his usual geeky but likeably geeky shtick he does for everything he’s in. It’s not a surprise that most of the lines in this film were improvised by the cast, and badly improvised, because maybe the script was incompetent and cheesy, we’ll never know will we?

Ah, and did I mention the writers pull out all the stops to create comedy (aside from the numerous comedian cameos) including and featuring stoners, kids vomiting and much more toilet humor including farting, feces, and garbage, the always faithful gang of white guys trying to act like hip gangsters, homophobic humor, deformities to laugh or cringe at (I was never sure, really), and physical comedy such as falling, and slamming into things, efforts that fail on every note. Yes, the writers do scrape the bottom of the barrel, and the bottom of the bottom of the barrel for comedy with everything possible to lump into one hour and a half comedy, but when circus clowns and mimes suddenly enter the film halfway through the story for no apparent reason or set-up, you know the writers are getting really desperate. Scary desperate. Probably the worst improv is courtesy of Vince Vieluf who is just nauseating as the “comic relief” getting the impression that making odd sounds and screeches qualify as comedy… didn’t you learn anything from Bobcat Goldwaithe?

Odd loud sudden screeching, yelling and shrill noises do not make for good comedy. Regardless he looks desperate to make people laugh, but his character is so unlikable we wonder why we’re paying attention to him in the first place, so, like a five year old, you ignore him and possibly push him down. Hey, I’ve done it. Jennifer Morrison does her best Kate Bosworth impression, and while she’s as cute as a button and twice as adorable, she’s nothing but a vapid love interest. Her character Jamie is horribly under-developed, but what else is new? She pops in halfway through the story and often times eerily ends up running into the three leads to engage in some dialogue and leave, then smile, it’s almost routine by the end, and very much tacked on. She and the lead have zero chemistry, zero attraction but we’re supposed to believe they’re falling in love. Her character would have been a great addition to the all male cast; the tough tomboy is always appreciated in my book, but she’s barely in this film to be considered part of the cast.

Maybe she’s a good actress, it’s possible, but alas I’m being the do-gooder once again. Anyway, there is the obligatory story formula of the guys stumbling into comedic accidents and mishaps, clashing with a rival band of skateboarders, and the final sequence of the competition not to mention. By the end, the filmmakers reach one last feat of desperation with rolling credits showing none other than bloopers! Ha! He messed up his line! Ha! He pushed him into the pool! Ha! That kid really isn’t puking…! Wait… didn’t I hate this movie? Never mind. Though I suspect this was just created as an hour and a half commercial to market products from the X-Games and its soundtrack, nonetheless this is possibly one of the most ridiculous films of 2003 with clichés galore, bland characters, and very desperate attempts at comedy that are never funny. Cinematic fecal matter at its best.