IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Teeth ‘Grind’-ing dull

Skateboarding sterotypes dominate this simple-minded film.
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

Skateboarders should sue. As portrayed in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Grind,” skateboarders possess body-temperature IQs, are either dorks or preening egomaniacs and have zero social skills. And this movie wants to celebrate skateboarding! What the problem comes down to is a group of filmmakers making misguided choices in an effort to broaden the movie’s demographics beyond those who attend X Games.

Borrowing liberally from the Farrelly brothers/“American Pie” school of gross-out high grossers, director Casey La Scala and writer Ralph Sall graft a relentless barrage of crude bathroom humor onto an otherwise innocent tale of three buddies desperate to join the pro skating circuit. But these filmmakers lack the knack: without the charm or irrepressible imagination of the Farrellys or “American Pie” writer Adam Herz, the filmmakers succeeds only in making their protagonists look like jerks, who well deserve the misfortunes that befall them right up to a happy fadeout.

For all these efforts, “Grind” is unlikely to attract few beyond young males and may possibly annoy those who do take skateboarding seriously. The film’s chief attribute is action footage that features a number of renowned pro skaters, both as doubles for the leads and to play other competitors. The producers’ collaboration with Morgan Stone’s 900 Films, a production company heavily involved in action sports, pays off in this regard.

What passes for plot
Eric (Mike Vogel from “Grounded for Life”) is determined to get noticed by skateboarding pros, meaning athletes sponsored by skateboarding-related companies who tour the country to give demonstrations. He enlists two pals for this quest — Dustin (Adam Brody), who actually is more focused on his impending college career, and Matt (Vince Vieluf), a goofball you would think Eric would be embarrassed to claim as a friend.

Using Dustin’s tiny college nest egg for funds and persuading their skirt-chasing friend Sweet Lou (Joey Kern) to drive them in his van — only moments before an irate father of one girlfriend attacks it with a baseball bat — the four take off from their Chicago homes to travel to California, shadowing the pro circuit but having no real way to join in the fun. They can only hope someone will notice them.

They crash the occasional party — only to get rudely tossed out — but these three are as helpless at catching anyone’s eye as they are at picking up girls. Things go from bad to worse in ways that are both predictable and pedestrian. The filmmakers seek to liven things up with Matt’s crude sexual come-ons, a young boy vomiting on a skateboarder and more poo jokes any anyone will care to count. Other distractions are a number of well-endowed females in bikinis.

The skateboarding itself is eye-popping in a positive sense. (These guys are so good it’s a relief to see outtakes during end credits, which show that even pros take a tumble now and then.) Ultimately, though, the repetitious nature of the sport makes it a poor vehicle for a feature-length movie.

The actors all appear to deserve better characters and story lines. Vogel and Brody are engaging, but Vieluf cannot salvage much sympathy for Matt the Misfit. Kern’s chasing of very young girls provides more queasy moments than the toilet jokes, but his “smoothnes” contains just the right degree of smarminess. Jennifer Morrison as a skate chick and Randy Quaid as Matt’s surprising father have quality moments late in the game. Tech credits outside of skating sequences are perfunctory.