Of the many things that Josh Brolin did between The Goonies and The MCU that no one knows about, this David Winters directed mishmash of skateboarding and Romeo & Juliet is absolutely one of them. Featuring a whole load of people that you’ll half recognise whilst going “oh my lord, they look so young!” and with a guest appearance from The Red Hot Chillie Peppers, it’s so 80s it [Insert Horrible Thing About The 80s That Everyone Forgets]. But on skateboards!
To start things off, here are a couple of names that aren’t Josh Brolin. From a bunch of films you won’t remember there is Robert Rusler and from The Lost Boys and a bunch of films you won’t remember there is Brooke McCarter, whilst from Twin Peaks and there are Pamela Gidley and Sherilyn Fenn. Everyone else is much of a muchness, and they all do a pretty good job of being teenagers doing teenage things in a recognizably teenage style. No one is bad, but thanks to a script that is best described as “serviceable” no one is especially great either. There’s also Josh Brolin’s nipples, which have far more on-screen time than expected so should probably get their own credit.
Paul Brown and Alan Sacks handled the writing and if the dialogue is serviceable, we can be generous to the plot and call it “variable”. Act one sets the scene of rivalry between The Ramp Locals and The Daggers, two roughty toughty set of youths who skateboard a lot and don’t give a hoot what The Man has to say about it, and Corey’s (Brolin) fancying of Chrissy (Gidley) to the chagrin of Hook (Rusler). Hijinks, inevitably, ensue and there is a lot of skateboarding.
Act two knocks things up a notch by doing something interesting with the tried and tested premise, and even has a bit of proto-feminism with Chrissy maintaining that Hook (her brother) doesn’t get to say what she has to do with her life and that Corey (her lover, in a remarkably unsexy sex scene) doesn’t have to be a meat-headed idiot. It even has the two males go “wow, that’s a valid and reasonable point! We accept you as an individual with free will” before that gets spectacularly scuppered and she finds true fulfillment as a very attractive Lamp. There is also a lot of skateboarding.
Act three is Hook, Corey, and what seems like a hundred other skateboarders taking part in a ridiculously long downhill skateboarding event. It is, without doubt, a breathtakingly dumb idea so obviously makes for great viewing as you get to watch people wipe out on skateboards in several bone-shatteringly painful manners. You also get to see Hook and Corey fight it out to see who can skateboard the best because that’s what the whole film is all about (Spoiler: It’s clearly their stunt doubles). There are some small bits of drama, but mostly it’s just skateboarding.
As you may have figured, there is a lot of skateboarding in this film. Some of it is on pavements, some of it is on small ramps, some on big ramps, some in bowls, one bit is in a storm-drain with people wielding flail-mounted boxing gloves, and some of it is down a sodding big hill that no sane person should ever think about skateboarding down. A lot of the basic stuff is done by the cast, which is nice, and a lot of the more technical/potentially bone-snapping stuff is done by stuntmen and obvious edits. Mostly it’s cinema good, which means not a patch on the stuff that was appearing in pro-skater videos of the era.
Like those kinds of videos, it also makes extensive use of pop tunes to try and convey the excitement and general LA vibe of the situations. Unfortunately, the audio team seems to have got a mixtape from a bargain bin and called it a day. A couple of tunes are bangers, most are okay, and none of them really have that much in common. Unless this was some incredibly knowing attempt to replicate the way the two main parts of the film didn’t mesh together, in which case it’s still a bit rubbish but intentionally so!
There is a lot going against this movie: The protagonist flips from charming to jerk for no discerning reason, the interesting second act gets canceled for a cookie-cutter cliche conclusion*, and it fails to demonstrate either great drama or great skating. On the other hand, the good bits are good, the montages have a charm to them, and it is a very teen story. The stakes, the motivations, the actions are taken, and the emotional responses are all incredibly teenager and that gives it a surprising level of reality. So, by a very tight margin, it manages to just skim its way into Treasure territory by being entertaining. Even if some of it comes from it being a time capsule of what 30-year-olds thought 80s kids thought was cool.
*Yes, I am proud of that