Sony // 1996 // 88 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 4th, 2003
The path to higher education is all downhill!
In the grand tradition of Ski Patrol and Hot Dog: The Movie comes Snowboard Academy! Touting itself as an "avalanche of fun," Snowboard Academy's story revolves around two rivaling brothers (including Corey Haim, The Lost Boys) and their quest to prove that their particular brand of skiing is superior. When Chris "The Wizard" Barry (Haim) and his snowboarding buds run ragged all over the slopes of his father's ski resort, Chris's brother, Paul (Paul Hopkins), starts to lash out with various threats. When Paul (who prefers skiing and thinks snowboarders are just punks) challenges Chris to a race, their father (played by the sickly looking Joe Flaherty), dealing with other headaches including his conniving wife (ex-Stallone lover Brigitte Nielsen), reluctantly agrees. Now Chris has two weeks to turn a batch of fumbling snowboard losers into winners. Throw in a subplot featuring an inept safely engineer named Rudy James (the late Jim Varney, Ernest Goes to Camp) and you've got yourself enrolled in the Snowboard Academy!
If you were to be hit hard on the head with a frying pan, chances are when you came to you'd be in a lot of discomfort and very annoyed. Surprisingly, these are the same feelings I had after watching director John Shepphird's amateurish Snowboard Academy. Listen, I like a good snow bunny sex romp as much as the next guy -- Out Cold has become a classic in my household. If you were to take Out Cold and make a copy of that, then make a copy of that copy, you'd have something along the lines of Snowboard Academy. Who was this movie made for? Teens? Adults? Coma patients? I'm guessing the latter since every joke feels about as forced as induced labor. Corey Haim has come a long way since his heyday in the 1980s -- no longer a cute kid or charming teen, Haim's dread-locked hair seems to have sucked up all of his talent. Buxom Brigitte Nielsen, a woman with breasts so large they appear to be separate living entities, has one of the laziest Russian accents ever captured on film. (Example: "Zat Iz not Za vay ve do zings around here!") Then there's Jim Varney who, God love him, is about as funny as watching mildew grow between my toes. Varney mugs and mugs and mugs...then mugs a little bit more. After he's done mugging, he falls down and breaks things over his head. This is then followed by his character telling lame jokes and giggling like the village idiot. In short, it's one of the worst performances this side of Rik Mayall in Drop Dead Fred. Even the skiing footage is less than impressive (which in most cases is what makes a film like this half-decent) -- there are only so many times you can watch a stuntman jump over a hill before you want to gouge your eyes out with a ski pole. The most jaw dropping moment came when the camera lingered on an insurance claim that looked sometime like this:
"To whom it may concern, you must pay this insurance bill before the due date. If you do not comply, we will be seizing your ski resort. adjfakldfd askdmfasmdf akldf adkj'kjope dmkmkmv admfasmdf kmfmadfm dlkm;sdmflmd;sd km;mdejinvn asdmfkmk am kni fklamndfm kemfo..."
Unbelievably, the filmmakers didn't feel the need to take five minutes out of their busy schedules to type a realistic looking insurance letter that doesn't look like a monkey typed it two sentences later. This is a good summation/explanation of why Snowboard Academy is such a tepid flick: everyone involved in the production didn't seem to care weather it was well made or not. Best recommendation: buy this disc and use it as a plate for your snacks while you watch something -- anything -- else.
Snowboard Academy is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. While I'm all for the preservation of original aspect ratios, in the case of this film I don't think it really matters (if indeed it was filmed in widescreen to begin with). Overall the transfer is fine, if very unexceptional. The movie itself looks cheap, so don't expect any miracles. The colors and black levels appear to be mostly solid while some imperfections abound (edge enhancement, softness in the image). Hey, it's Snowboard Academy -- are you really going to lose any sleep over this ho-hum transfer? The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo in English. There's absolutely nothing interesting to say about this soundtrack -- the mix features clear dialogue, effects, and music, and that's about it. Hiss and distortion are at the bare minimum, though would have been a nice distraction from the film. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
If you're really smart you'll skip the movie and just watch a few of the bonus trailers included on this disc. Otherwise, Snowboard Academy is, thankfully, a completely bare bones release.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailers