review by Elias Savada, 15 August 2003

No, just because the director's name is (Casey) La Scala, you won't find a hint of opera in Grind. Then again, cultured fans of La Traviata might be up in arms for their La Scala even being mentioned in any association with this film or its first-time helmer. The music in it exemplifies the film in general: extremely awful. Here is a mindlessly tepid excursion into the world of not-at-all-extreme skateboarding, disguised as a post-adolescent road movie with very little of the actual sport on display, especially by the film's "stars." Ralph Sall's mind-numbing screenplay is about as exciting as watching ice melt. Based on this, his sole feature screenwriting credit, Sall best retreat hastily to his day job, as a successful song and music producer, although based on the composer/music producing hat he dons in Grind, with the music too loud and high octane to match the unexciting visuals, he may have problems with some of his former clients, including Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, and Jewel.

For someone who can barely remember the last time (i.e., a few decades ago) he was on roller skates—and he has never ridden a board (so I am writing this as an "outsider")—Grind isn't likely to bring aboard any of its viewers not previously involved with the sport. For anyone not associated with the vernacular, grind is scraping one or both axles of a skateboard on a curb, railing, or other surface. Maybe the producers are waiting for the DVD release to include all of this grinding missing in the theatrical release. Ah, silly me, in deference to the "story line" they obviously wanted to showcase the cast's acting talent, or in the case of poor Randy Quaid, how you can embarrass yourself under a ton of clown makeup. What grinding you do hear are your teeth pulverizing the ticket stub you dare not show anyone as proof you actually sat through this stiff effort.

Ah, did I mention there was a story line, well 

Recent Chicago-area high school graduates (really?) Eric Rivers (Mike "Grounded for Life" Vogel), Dustin Knight (Adam "The O.C." Brody), and slacker Matt Jensen (Vince "Rat Race" Vieluf) decide to ditch their fast-food-chain jobs (Chili 'N Such is the name, so flatulence and worse are the sophomoric game) or other dreary mall life existence in favor of crashing the national skateboard circuit without a required sponsor. "Sweet" Lou Singer (Joey Kern), a ladies’ man six years out of high school (and none the smarter) going nowhere except into a bevy of hot chick pants, is approached by the trio to come along with them on their quest—and in his vehicle. When the dad of Wednesday, one of Lou's generic teen-bait vixens, gives chase to the womanizer, this easily triggers a lame plot device (unfortunately not a small explosion) and maneuvers a quick getaway in Lou's van, ostensibly used in a dog and cat grooming business, but probably used more for petting. The foursome  rechristen the vehicle and themselves as the faux professional extreme boarding entity Super Dupers. Groping from town to town on fumes (not all of it from the car) and false hopes, they are determined to make themselves jackasses, er champs, or die telling lame jokes.

They interact with real life professional skaters, a family of clowns (Matt's parents), a lot of hot, busty babes, and too much toilet humor. As such you can flush the acting. Jennifer Morrison as the girl with the Pepsodent smile is an attractive catch and some character depth, but she's awash in a sea of morons. Even the cameos will and should be quickly forgotten: Stephen Root, Bobcat Goldthwait, Tom Green. Others lay hidden behind enough makeup that they can safely disavow ever having appeared in the film. Is that you, Dave Foley?

This whole film comes across as a turgid excuse for entertainment, offering glimpses of Kansas, Colorado, and other states at their worst. Would you expect anything better from a film that celebrates projectile vomiting? Grind is as funny as a torpedo in a drained motel pool (ha, ha, ha) or as bad sing-a-longs (to music no one knows, but somehow find the words). Continuity is constantly tossed downwind (how did the clowns know to show up in Santa Monica?), and ending the film with a wink at spaghetti western should have Sergio Leone suing for defamation of character. Even the end-credit outtakes fall flat, so don't expect any tail end consolation. Director La Scala can't direct his way out of this can of half-baked beans.

Directed by:
Casey La Scala

Mike Vogel
Vince Vieluf
Adam Brody
Joey Kern
Jennifer Morrison
Randy Quaid
Bam Margera
Summer Altice
Chad Fernandez
Christine Estabrook
Erin Murphy

Written by:
Ralph Sall

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult






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