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"GRIND"
(2003) (Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Drama: Four friends perform their skateboarding tricks while traveling across the country and trying to get some professional skateboarders to watch their demo tape.
PLOT:
Eric Rivers (MIKE VOGEL) and his friends Dustin (ADAM BRODY) and Matt (VINCE VIELUF) are skateboard enthusiasts who want to become professionals but can't get their idols, such as Jimmy Wilson (JASON LONDON) or Bam Margera (BAM MARGERA), to watch their demo tape.

Accordingly, they decide to follow the professional skateboarding tour as it travels around the country. To do so, however, they need some wheels and that's where Sweet Lou (JOEY KERN) comes in. A twenty-something guy who still hits on high school girls and other young women, Lou has a van and soon the foursome hits the road.

As they encounter various obstacles along the way - as well as skateboarder Jamie (JENNIFER MORRISON) - the guys try to prove that their skateboarding skills are worthy of being discovered by their idols and the general public.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
Back before contemporary amenities and diversionary products such as cell phones, video games, home video and computers, kids of my generation had to find ways to amuse themselves. In our neighborhood, that included doing various precarious - and as far as we were aware in our small world - novel stunts on our old-fashioned skateboards.

Of course, that was long before the pastime turned into a serious hobby that then segued into a full sport, complete with professionals and sponsors. While we aspired to be pro football or baseball players, some kids nowadays would prefer to make a living on the pro skating tour.

Such is the gist of "Grind," a film so named for the skateboard stunts of riding one's board sideways down a railing, curb or other straight-line object. Then again, it could be called that due to it pulverizing one's patience and/or causing anyone not in its target audience to gnash their teeth in regards to how annoying and awful the film really is.

Part "Jackass" - with even a few of the "cast" members from that film (but without the infectiously exuberant enthusiasm) - part road trip flick, part gross out comedy and a bit of Tom Green (a.k.a. the cinematic kiss of death), the film is a poorly made mess.

Considering its plot regarding some young guys trying to succeed in a sport with their idols, the film could have been a modern day "Breaking Away." Alas, that would have taken an injection of talent and taste, two commodities this film is sorely lacking.

Rather than an imaginative and inspirational coming of age story about a "townie" who aspires to be a great bicycle racer and grows up along the way, screenwriter Ralph Sall (a music executive making his feature film debut) has delivered a boring, less than engaging and generally idiotic tale of some goofball losers who want to be skateboarding pros.

If I had to guess - based on the results of what's on the screen - I'd say that the characters and/or the filmmakers responsible for them hit their heads a few too many times while rehearsing the skateboarding stunts.

That might explain the absence of any sort of character depth or funny, charming or endearing traits that could have engaged the viewer and thus made him or her want to cheer on the protagonists. In place of that is material that gives even the term lowest common denominator a bad name.

While I suppose some younger teenage boys might find the movie, the characters - played by Mike Vogel (making his film debut), Adam Brody (bit parts in "The Ring" and "American Pie 2), Vince Vieluf ("Rat Race," "Clay Pigeons") and Joey Kern ("Cabin Fever," "Super Troopers") - and their sophomoric shenanigans to their liking, no one else will.

All of which might have been slightly forgivable had the film's supposed pièce de résistance - namely its scenes of skateboarding stunts and other derring-do - been something to watch. Unfortunately, the majority of the stunts - and the way director Casey La Scala (a producer making his directorial debut) has filmed them - are about as boring and listless as one could imagine. Even the final competition and the buildup to that are lame and uninspired.

Unless you're a huge fan of the sport or enjoy seeing projectile vomiting, fecal humor, sexist ogling of women or really bad and inept storytelling, you should skate away from this mess as fast as possible. The appropriately titled "Grind" rates as an excruciating 1 out of 10.




Reviewed July 28, 2003 / Posted August 15, 2003


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