Kill the Engine

I Finally Watched 'Hardflip'

By Michael Sieben

I will watch any movie that has something to do with skateboarding. They're all terrible, but the 80s kid in me still thinks there's something cool about watching a flick that has dudes Thrashin' in it. That being said, this Sunday I sat down to watch what I assumed would be the worst skateboarding movie yet. I was about halfway through it when I realized that the movie I thought I was going to be watching is actually called Street Dreams. Although after seeing the trailer for Street Dreams, I think Hardflip is pretty much the same movie. The only difference might be that the main role in Street Dreams is played by a professional skateboarder, whereas the main dude in Hardflip looks like he learned how to roll on a skateboard a week before they started shooting. The result was way too much footage of a guy with a really awkward stance who looked liked he had to poop every time they showed him rolling down the sidewalk. I can relate, bro.

Like most people, I love underdog stories. Rocky, The Karate Kid, 8 Mile, Hoop Dreams, Hoosiers, Babe... I'm guessing that we respond to these stories because we're all losers in at least one aspect of our lives, and so we can relate to struggle. These films give us the temporary belief that our own stories might have a life-transforming music montage somewhere on the not-so-distant horizon. Hardflip follows the underdog template verbatim, with absolutely no surprises or plot twists. A kid has it rough, things get rougher, he takes a stand, things all work out in the end after he accepts Jesus as his savior. Wait, what?

Oh, you know, it's the typical underdog skateboarding Christian propaganda film that we've all seen a thousand times. Personally, I don't care what your belief system might (or might not) be, but it's always been confusing to me when people try to combine sports with religion. In this instance, if there's a higher power at work, I really hope He or She has better things to worry about than whether or not some dude at a skatepark lands a hardflip backlip down a handrail. OK, now I'm preaching.

I'll just touch on a few other things that seemed strange in this movie. The main character was convinced that he was going to make it in the skateboard industry, and yet he was unwilling to film or compete in events that would showcase his athleticism to the tastemakers. Every ten-year-old skateboard kid has a sponsor-me video up on YouTube these days. How did this character grow up in the internet age of skateboarding without feeling the need to document his moves? Seems unlikely.

The main character also told his mom that he was going to make it in skateboarding, and that skateboarding was going to take him away from "all of this." Let me briefly describe the character's life situation. He's 18, lives in an awesome apartment skating distance from the Venice Beach skatepark, has no job and doesn't appear to go to school, has enough extra income to buy pot from his pot dealer, and his mom works two jobs, meaning he has the apartment to himself all of the time. Seems like a cushier situation than most working pros have. And if he was talking about getting away from "all of this" in a geographic sense, it's important to keep in mind that pretty much the only other place his skateboarding might take him would be northern California. If that's the case, then he's in need of a serious skate-makeover: clothing, hairstyle, and trick selection included. Getting started on a tattoo collection might not hurt, either.

One last silly thing in the movie was when Luis Tolentino (a skateboarder from NYC) told the main character to beat it because he wasn't from around there or he wasn't welcome there or something along those lines. That was silly to me because they were in southern California and the dude had a very strong East Coast accent. Seems like they could have had Sheckler deliver that line. Maybe they couldn't afford him.

Anyway, all in all it was a pretty bad movie but definitely not the worst movie I've ever sat through. I'd definitely recommend it to somebody who is trying to quit smoking marijuana and wants to convert to Christianity. If you don't fall into that category, I'd recommend renting Gleaming the Cube or MVP: Most Vertical Primate.

Oh, yeah, there's also a strangely homoerotic skate-date night session in the movie, which was probably the best part of the whole thing.

Previously - I Wonder If Natas Still Skates

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