Judge Mitchell Hattaway takes the training wheels off this movie, only to watch it promptly fall down and skin its knee.
Fear nothing. Risk everything.
The press materials tout this as "the first narrative motion picture set in the high-octane world of Supercross competition." I get the feeling it will also be the last.
Facts of the Case
Brothers K.C. (Steve Howey, Reba) and Trip Carlyle (Mike Vogel, Grind) live to race motorcycles. They aspire to become champions in the world of Supercross, but their pool cleaning business isn't providing them with the means to fund their dream. Things look up when K.C. receives a corporate sponsorship, but this lucrative deal drives a wedge between the brothers, leading them to become rivals on and off the track. But when Trip is seriously injured and is forced to hang up his helmet, they learn that in the end nothing can tear this family apart.
In case you're wondering, this blink-and-you-missed-it box office bomb is just as silly as it sounds. And yes, it does manage to trot out every cliché you can think of. You want brotherly jealousy? You'll find it here. You want a father who instilled his love of racing in his boys and then died before he could see his sons achieve their dreams of racing on the pro circuit? You'll find it here. You want one of the brothers to fall in love with a girl who is completely out of his league (in this case it's a rich girl who attends law school)? You'll find it here. You want the other brother to fall in love with a tomboy mechanic? You'll find it here. You want a mentor who knew the boys' father back in the day (in this case the mentor is also the father of the tomboy)? You'll find it here. You want a corporate bad guy? You'll find it here. You want a vain, cocky, do-anything-to-win rival? You'll find it here. You want a tattooed, tough-talking bad guy? You'll find it here. You want a hero who triumphs over seemingly insurmountable odds and finally makes his dream a reality? You'll find it here. You want anything resembling a decent movie? That you won't find here. You really have to wonder if the people behind this movie were even trying. There isn't a single new idea at work here. Not one. Maybe the producers thought that because they were working on the world's first Supercross movie, it was enough to simply drag out these tired old ideas and characters and put them to work in a new setting. Guess it didn't matter to them that the characters and plot put to work here had become old hat before the sport of Supercross was invented.
Given that Supercross exists primarily to showcase Supercross action, you'd expect the scenes of Supercross action to be exciting and dynamic. Well, you'd be wrong. Much of the racing footage in the movie was filmed during actual Supercross events, which I'm sure handcuffed director Steve Boyum to a certain degree, but these scenes are clumsily shot and edited. You can't tell who's who, or where the racers are in relation to one another spatially. (Just so you'll know, Boyum is a stuntman who parlayed his clout into directing duties on such fare as Meet the Deedles and Timecop: The Berlin Decision.) These sequences are also boring and repetitive (not that it matters much, what with the outcome of any given race a foregone conclusion); it's just slow-motion shot after slow-motion shot of stuntmen launching their bikes into the air, with absolutely horrible green screen close-ups of the leads spliced in at random moments. (I'm pretty sure they only shot one close-up of each actor; I know the same shot of Howey looking over his shoulder and glowering behind his racing goggles was used at least a dozen times.) Trust me—a little of this goes a long, long way. (Anyone looking for real Supercross action would be better off sticking to real Supercross events. At least that way there's always the chance you'll see someone seriously injured or killed.)
The movie is good for a few unintentional laughs. The dialogue is just as howlingly bad as you would expect it be. Watching the cast (including some real-life racers who would be wise to stick to their day jobs) attempt to emote elicits more than a few chuckles. Spotting male stunt riders subbing for the female characters is fun. And you get a character who has suffered massive head trauma and has just come out of surgery having a completely lucid conversation with his brother. You also get the same character, who also suffered a shattered leg and hip, leaving the hospital about fifteen seconds later. And less than ten minutes later the same character is shown partaking in a quickie with his tomboy girlfriend in their racing team's trailer. (Nothing turns on the ladies quite like a man with massive head trauma who is also sporting a leg brace.) Then there's the final scene, in which K.C. wins the big race and triumphantly launches his bike into the air, fireworks lighting up the sky behind him (I didn't just spoil that for anybody, did I?). I couldn't quite make it out, but given the placement of the explosions, either K.C. had launched himself over the top of the stadium, or the fireworks were bursting in the middle of the stands. Poor filmmaking or contempt for the audience? You make the call.
When it came to the racing sequences, director Boyum and cinematographer William Wages wanted to give the film a hot, stylized, hyper-realistic look, and they certainly achieved this. The non-racing sequences (what few there are) have an intentionally muted, gritty look. Problem is, there is far too much grain in the image; you can spot it in nearly every frame, and at times it goes beyond being a stylistic choice and becomes an eyesore. As can be expected, the audio is thunderous; bass is deep and booming, and surround action is plentiful. On the other hand, dialogue in non-racing sequences (what few there are) is almost always unintelligible, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you can't laugh at what you can't hear. Extras include a bunch of short, uninformative featurettes, which all together only run about ten minutes (take out the footage repeated in each and they would only run about five minutes), the movie's theatrical trailer, and a commentary track from director Boyum. Despite the movie's brief running time, there is a lot of dead air in the commentary. Still, Boyum shows quite a bit of love for the movie (as misguided as that love may be), and the track is far more interesting and entertaining than the movie itself.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I will give the producers credit for one thing: they are masters of product placement. Honestly, if you were to try and count the plugs in this movie, you'd probably give yourself an aneurism. Almost every frame of this movie is crammed with corporate logos. The camera lovingly lingers over them, making sure the companies who ponied up some cheese get their money's worth. Every t-shirt K.C. and Trip own is plastered with the name of a bike manufacturer, gear company, or restaurant chain. Even the dialogue is rife with huckstering. The single funniest moment in the movie occurs after Trip has suffered his dream-shattering injuries and Trip has lost his corporate gig. They sullenly sit on their couch, bemoaning their fates and wondering if life will ever deal them a winning hand. Trip asks K.C. what his next move is going to be. K.C. responds by enthusiastically saying he's going to Papa John's. Trip then launches into a long speech about Papa John's dipping sauces. Needless to say, this is the turning point in the movie; after this scene, everything starts looking up for the brothers. Sweet, sweet pizza…is there anything you can't do?
Of course, all of this corporate sponsorship seems a bit out of place in a movie populated by characters who spend a great deal of time decrying the world of corporate sponsorship. Maybe this is intended to be ironic, but I kind of doubt it.
It almost makes me long for Days of Thunder. Hell, it almost makes me long for The Dirt Bike Kid.
No doubt about it—guilty.
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