Glomming the Cube
Skateboarding movies have always sucked. From Gleaming the Cube to MVP 2 (the latter starring a chimp), Hollywood's desperate attempts to cash in on a thriving subculture have made the brief breakdance-movie fad of the '80s look like neorealism. I've spent most of my life skateboarding, and these movies and commercials are the reason my dad thinks I'm retarded. I can't even turn on my TV anymore without seeing some little brat kickflipping a bagel.
The other day I saw the new skate movie Grind. It's about a group of kids graduating from high school and trying to make it as pro skaters. There's a mild love story, and I think there might have even been a few messages here and there, but it's basically a sloppy movie highlighted by asinine cameos. There are a lot of actual skaters in the film: Brian Sumner, Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist, Bam Margera, Ryan Scheckler. (Some of them play themselves, and some serve as stunt doubles.) The skating itself is pretty decent, but the editing is a little twisted. During one head-to-head duel on the vert ramp, there's a shot of Bucky doing a frontside 540 heelflip, and then suddenly he's landing a lien air--an entirely different trick.
Question for Warner Bros.: How dumb do you think we are? I actually considered making a drinking game out of all the inaccuracies in Grind, but I only succeeded in smuggling two beers into the screening. There's a lot of butt-sniffing in skateboarding, so believe me: We notice when Bam asks for one of his own boards and the dude behind the counter hands him a Real deck. Skateboarding, you see, is not a sport; its participants are extremely protective of their scene, and they don't appreciate anyone trying to take advantage of its popularity.
Anyway, I got the chance to meet two of the actors in Grind--Joey Kern and Vince Vieluf--during a recent promotional appearance at the 3rd Lair skatepark in Golden Valley. Let me not understate it: It takes real balls for an actor to walk into a skatepark and promote this movie. "When I first got here," says Kern, who plays the mustachioed babe-magnet Sweet Lou, "I was like, 'Oh, these kids hate us.'" I'm surprised by Kern's honesty. He's admittedly not a skater, and he confesses that he didn't really know what he was in for when he took the job. (He was hired only three days before shooting began.) I ask the actor if he has been catching shit from other real skaters whom he has met along the Grind tour. "Older kids are like, 'Go home, you poser--you're making skating look bad,'" he reports. A recent graduate of the drama program at NYU, Kern tells me that he needed work when the Grind producers called, and didn't much care what the movie was. "If people look at this and think it's a shitty movie," he says, "I hope they'll at least say, 'But he was really good.'"
Kern's sincerity nearly gives me a new outlook on Grind. And then I meet Vieluf: He plays the jerk-off who jokes in the previews about representing the "Release the Twins Foundation" (a boob joke) and about offering "greetings from the interior" (a fart joke). "We wanted something more seamless," says Vieluf of the filmmakers' goals for Grind. "Not Blue Crush with a skateboard, but something more like Jackass." What Vieluf and Warner Bros. don't seem to understand is that the Jackass and Big Brother shit is funny because it's real. If you try to act it out, it's just lame. Even a four-year-old would tell you that.
During the interview, Vieluf takes an interest in my missing front tooth, which I knocked out recently while skating, and proceeds to thrill me with his own injury story. "Let me show you something fuckin' gnarly," he says, lifting his upper lip. "You see that fake tooth? That's from fuckin' skating a cement ditch, dude. It had rained, and I come climbin' my ass up the cement thing, slipped, man, and boom! Oh, my God."
"You were just walking?" I ask.
"Yeah. I was walking with my skateboard, dude."
Totally, dude. Give me MVP 2 over Grind any day. At least that chimp actually skated.
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