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|Index||15 reviews in total|
I saw this film today at Sundance and really enjoyed it. I don't know
why the other two reviewers here suggest it would be better as a comedy
about the era or should be like Dazed and Confused. That would be a
completely different story and the writer and director obviously wanted
to tell THIS story. They show a young man dealing at age 19 with his
world crashing in on him, in several ways, pretty much all at once. I
appreciated the story they chose to tell and found the lead character
rather charming and a nice portrayal of a not too perfect "good boy." I
was interested in following what he was going through. Sure, there have
been many similar teen stories, several set in this era, and not a lot
of new material was explored. Except that the Skateland theme will be
memorable to many of us who enjoyed a skating rink during our childhood
and teen years.
One of the sad things about seeing films you like at Sundance is that so many of them never see the light of day again. This may not be a blockbuster, but as the closing credits ran, I thought - this one will make it. I think the casting will help assure that this one isn't going to be mothballed.
Greetings again from the darkness. I am a sucker for coming-of-age
stories based in the 60's, 70's or 80's. So all it was took was seeing
the trailer once for me to catch up with first time director Anthony
Burns' film set in 1983 in a small east Texas town. No matter that I
spent almost no time in a skating rink growing up. The basic time and
place was enough to lure me in.
Pet Peeve Alert: I have stated this many times, but I can never understand why directors feel the need to cast twenty-somethings as high schoolers. Immediately I am on the defensive. That's not to say that Shiloh Fernandez, Ashley Greene and Haley Ramm aren't fine actors, because they certainly are. They just aren't believable as 17 or 18 year olds. Same with Heath Freeman (the film's co-writer). As Brent, he is cast as the older guy who still parties with the high schoolers when on break from his time as a dirt bike racer. Mr. Freeman is talented, but looks to be pushing 40 years old! Remember Matthew McConaughey in Richard Linklater's excellent Dazed and Confused? At least he didn't look 15 years older than the other kids. There are elements of that film, as well as Almost Famous and American Graffiti, present here. Unfortunately, Skateland never comes close to the detail or emotional strength of any of those three films.
For the first hour, I kept holding out hope that the film would find itself and really present something new and special. It has the look of important commentary. It just leaves us holding an empty bag.
Certainly all the pieces are here ... wannabe writer, inspirational sister, broken family, rich and poor friends, cool and uncool students, hangers-on, local thugs, etc. Even Skateland itself has a real look and feel. For whatever reason, these pieces never jell ... they just lay there expecting us to assemble a meaningful, completed puzzle.
'SKATELAND': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
This is no 'ADVENTURELAND'! I've heard comparisons been made between the two and 'ADVENTURELAND' was actually one of my favorite films of 2009, this film is mediocre at best. Both are coming of age tales set in the 1980's about recent high school graduates evaluating their lives and deciding what they want to do next, while working dead end jobs (in this film it's at a skating rink, in 'ADVENTURELAND' it was at an amusement park). They also both co-starred female 'TWILIGHT' stars as the love interests (in 'ADVENTURELAND' it was Kristen Stewart, in this film it's Ashley Greene). Both young stars are talented and more than adequate in their respective roles but lead Shiloh Fernandez (of 'DEADGIRL' fame) is nowhere near as memorable as Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg gave 'ADVENTURELAND' a lot of heart and relatability that this film just doesn't have. 'SKATELAND' is passable sappy drama but ultimately forgettable.
In the film Fernandez plays a 19 year old skating rink manager, named Ritchie Wheeler, at a rink in Texas during the 80's just when skating was starting to dies off in popularity. Due to business deflating the rink is set to close and Ritchie is forced to look for another job. At the same time he has to deal with his parents (Melinda McGraw and Brett Cullen) getting a divorce and his sister (Haley Ramm) always pestering him about college applications. He's also in love with his best friend's sister (Greene). Things become even further complicated when tragedy strikes his best friend (Heath Freeman).
The film was directed by Anthony Burns and written by Burns as well as Heath and Brandon Freeman (who also has a small part in the film). The writing and directing is decent and so is the acting (Greene is a standout) but there's nothing much to the story. It's so routine and unoriginal and nothing really exciting or memorable happens. It's definitely not a bad film it's just also definitely not a very good one either. It's one most people will probably forget quickly after watching it and if that's the case what's really the point?!
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The eighties music was wonderful in addition to a solid production
design team and a good cast.
The film had some very charming and humorous moments. I believe the film would have benefited by sticking to its comic explorations of the era and interpersonal dynamics of its main characters and sub characters.
The dramatic essence of the film did not work for me. I did not feel vested in the characters enough to care about several of the "tragic" circumstances explored by the filmmakers. At one point the soundtrack explodes before and during a chase sequence that I found out of sorts.
I feel with some additional sound and visual editing this charming film can be made ready for a larger distribution.
This movie has one of those scripts that captures your heart and doesn't let go. I will admit that I saw this movie multiple times at Sundance 2010, sure, the music was perfectly selected and placed in this film, the editing was wonderful... but it was the script. If you were reared in the 80s, had parents in the 80s, were aware of this thing called 'divorcing parents' in the 80s, well I could go on, but I know that there is some reality in this movie that will relate to you. It's coming to theaters March 25, 2011. If this movie isn't playing in your city, either demand it or fly to a city that's showing it. Do not wait for this one on video, you would miss out on experiencing the music as it's meant to be felt in this film if you wait to see this on Blu Ray or DVD. These guys have done a poor job of Marketing this movie (if only they had asked me), but they've got a film that COULD be the launch of something much bigger than what John Hughes dreamed of and did. It's not just a story, it's a heartfelt story... Finally a script that reaches into your heart and doesn't let go. I met with these guys repeatedly to explain what a master work they have. Since they aren't marketing it as the genius work this is, just go see it and get everyone you know to go see it, you won't be disappointed. Those that missed giving the GREAT review... I understand, it was COLD at Sundance, so the ice can have an effect on the positivity factor in the brain. Do not miss this movie!
I know a lot of people compare Skateland to Adventureland and I don't
want to follow everyone else but it's kinda hard not too. Both have the
coming of age in the 80's plot, both have a killer soundtrack and both
have a Twilight gal, the thing Skateland has that Adventureland lacked
was heart, what Adventureland has in laughs Skateland has in emotion.
The plot isn't necessarily original but we all know Hollywood don't
know what originality means, it stands out from the crowd because it
doesn't drown itself in the cliché feel good factor.
Shiloh Fernandez has graduated to leading man quite nicely, he has a very serene screen presence, and in this he sports the 80's shag to perfection. The scenes with him and his mother and sister are quite touching, I would have like to see a little bit of the story from the mothers point of view, she us almost painted as a cold woman so easily ready to abandon her children, but I picked up a vibe that there was more to the story than that.
The reproduction of the 80's is flawless, from the hair and clothes all the way down to the posters on a bedroom wall. Props to the production designers for that, so many period films of late aren't convincing enough with these details.
Check it out if you're in the mood for something a little different from the usual coming if age story, it's hard not to just sit back and enjoy the story unfolding before you. :)
This is one of those movies that sneaks up on you and you don't even
start to realize how good it is until you're halfway through it - but
you have to 'get' it. People who suggest that this should have been a
comedy, or who don't think it compares to a different movie, well those
people just didn't 'get' it. This is not a formula story with a
predictable plot; instead, it's an offbeat story that puts you right in
the background of the lives of ordinary people dealing with the kinds
of things you might have back in that day. I know that is how it came
across to me, and why it connected with me so well.
I won't go into the whole plot line but I will share two moments I really liked. One was when Richie's friend has sold the skate rink where he has worked for the last few years. Richie asks if he can close the place up one last time, and in the deserted rink he plays the same music, runs the flashing lights, talks over the PA system, and just relives countless moments he's had during his time working there. In one brief moment his head drops and you know the sadness is really hitting him. Young people are usually new at learning what loss is all about and it can be painful watching them experience it. Another scene I like, earlier in the film, is when Richie is working at the rink and sees a few young men shooting pool - and they were the ones who were indirectly or directly involved in the death of his best friend. With the 'limbo' pole in his hand he makes for them and flips out on them, venting his rage, almost killing one of them.
The story is deceptively low-key but so much of real life is just that way. This is not a nostalgia comedy - not all nostalgia is necessarily light-hearted comedy - so it may not be the best movie for a lot of people who would do better with something like 'Dazed and Confused'. If in your past you knew people and situations like the ones here, you'll 'get' it and enjoy it.
The blurb on the back of the box caught my eye "It's 'American Graffiti' for the generation baptized in 'Star Wars'.". Hey, that's me! Let me just say that it's no 'American Graffiti', though there are certainly some similarities. Like 'Graffiti', 'Skateland' takes place right in the middle of a transition in eras (Here 70s to 80s), and you have that unique blending of those two aesthetics and mindsets. And it's about young people in a small town trying to figure out who and what they want to be. It's all been done before, and much better. The performances are good, and the soundtrack is killer, but it's a fairly bland film that isn't nearly as profound as it thinks it is.
Nice unpretentious film in the genre of John Hughes teen years flicks. A nice little gem. Well worth a watch if you aren't expecting something award winning but still nicely done, subtle and warmly thoughtful of this time in our lives. Early 80's time space and appropriate music from that epic era, add a great soundtrack, as usual. Suspend judgment thru the first bits and give it a chance. Story is a bit typical, as seems characteristic of these. Loved that many of the characters seemed quite realistic and not stretched or inflated for any reason. Lastly, the Skateland hook is fun and memorable for most. Make some popcorn and enjoy.
I too checked out this film at the SXSW Film Festival just about two
months ago and thought it was going to be similar to Lord Of Dogtown
with Heath Ledger (a movie that I liked and thought was charming). I
thought the acting was solid (I don't like Ashley Greene much but
Shiloh Fernandez, who I just saw in Red Riding Hood, gave a very
convincing performance). The rest of the movie was very confusing to
me. It cuts all over the place and I found no real "through line" or
sense of continuity.
But, I think the filmmakers did a good job of putting a microscope to the time's of the 80's (the culture...specifically the teenage male and female angst and social classifications). I don't know that I would go see it again. It's no "Almost Famous." I thought it was a cool little movie that could have been better if it had a more specific storyline, but it just wasn't the case. Maybe it should be re-cut.
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