Fox // 2008 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 22nd, 2010
Take a chance. Feel the rush. Fall in love.
Motocross and mating collide in this low-impact tale of a young man who seeks to accomplish a multitude of things: 1) earn a space on the Motocross pro tour, 2) make enough money to spring his family from lower-class serfdom, 3) score a date with a hot stable worker, and 4) not get killed in a horrifying dirtbike accident.
That young man? One Cale Bryant (Corbin Bleu, High School Musical), an amicable chap whose selflessness and optimistic attitude clashes badly with the dog-eat-dog world of Motocross...and love. In the beginning, he strikes out badly in both, getting bounced from a crucial race, pissing off the dirtbike brass, endangering his shot at the pro tour and a lucrative sponsorship, and watching his girlfriend traipse off with a dickhead rival racer. Add to that, his temper lands him in trouble with the authorities and his mom ends up in the hospital.
But Cale isn't a little baby quitter. Employing all the pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps standards that's made America great, Cale works his way back into the qualification for the pro tour and starts making the googly eyes at another girl he met at a farm. Winning formula? Oh yeah.
The cover to this DVD is misleading. It's got Corbin Bleu sitting next to a girl on some grass in front of a blue sky and he's holding a flower, everyone's smiling, and the title "Free Style" is written in hot pink. Only when you flip the case around and see the small picture of two guys on dirtbikes is there any clue this movie revolves around Motocross.
The romance angle is here, but understated, and Cale's potential flame doesn't show up until 40 minutes in. You also get a handful of smaller storylines dealing with Cale's estranged father, his struggle with the family's dearth of finances, mom's illness, the plucky little sister, and the confusion inherent in being of mixed race. That's a lot to chew on and probably Free Style's biggest irritant; its shotgun approach to plotting. First and foremost, the movie is concerned with Cale's Motocross career, and thankfully it's the most engaging element of the story. Even more shocking is the way the plot unfolds, landing at the mandatory feel-good moment, but taking some quirky diversions to get there.
So, take this for a spin if you want something PG-rated, inoffensive, kind of sweet, sort of syrupy, acted with earnest, and sporting some nifty, down and dirty Motocross racing sequences. I have no large complaints.
Fox's DVD is a bare-bones effort: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround and no extras.
Not Guilty. Vroom.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG