zero stars (out of 5)
August 15, 2003
Mike Vogel as ERIC RIVERS
Vince Vieluf as MATT
Adam Brody as DUSTIN
Joey Kern as SWEET LOU
Jason Acuna as LITTLE BROTHER
Jennifer Morrison as JAMIE
Directed by: Casey La Scala
BY KEVIN CARR
“Grind” is an answer to the question that has been on the minds of many this summer: “Is there anything worse than Gigli?” The answer to this question is a resounding “YES!”
While “Gigli” had a one-word title that really doesn’t make sense unless you know the characters, “Grind” has a one-word title that is hilariously appropriate. “Grind” will grind on your nerves, grind on your sensibilities, grind on your patience and grind on your humanity.
I saw this film at a free screening. The theater was less than half full and the audience booed at the end of the movie. Yes, they actually booed. Now, it’s one thing to be so infuriated at a film because it sucked nine bucks out of your wallet, but everyone in the theater saw the film for free – and it still elicited such an emotionally negative response.
“Grind” tells the story of a pack of skateboarders who desperately want to hit the professional circuit. However, this is a near impossibility until they get sponsored. Not letting this minor detail get in their way, they pack up in a van and follow the skateboarding tour around the country, loosely sponsored by a local skate shop.
Most of the film is a weak excuse for an inane road trip, with the kids periodically stopping at skateboarding competitions and low-rent motels to show off their purely mediocre talents. They continuously try to catch the eye of professional skateboarders, hoping for an offer to tour with them. However, the only eye they end up catching is that of Jamie, an apparent skateboard groupie.
“Grind” is the kind of movie that will make independent filmmakers want to put a shotgun in their mouths. There’s a conventional wisdom followed by the studios that they won’t consider a movie unless it has some bankable names in it. Well, if this is the case, how did anyone even glance at “Grind”? The only recognizable names in this film are people like Randy Quaid and Tom Green.
The last time I checked, Tom Green was box office poison, and Randy Quaid in a clown suit isn’t going to put very many butts in theater seats. There are other cameos of skateboard stars like Bam Margera and Jason “Wee Man” Acuna, but outside of the niche market of skateboard enthusiasts, they are better known for their work on Jackass than anything else.
About twenty years ago, a film was released called “Moving Violations.” It starred a bunch of nobodies, but it gave itself some false credibility by casting siblings of famous people, including Bill Murray’s brother John, Stacey Keach’s brother James and the then unknown Jennifer Tilly, the sister of Meg Tilly. “Grind” takes this to a whole new level by casting actors based on who looks famous. Jennifer Morrison, who plays Jamie, is a dead ringer for Kate Bosworth from Blue Crush. Adam Brody is almost a carbon copy of Colin Hanks (son of Tom) from Orange County. And Joey Kern has a certain look of Johnny Depp and his character of Sweet Lou is an obvious retread of Matthew McConaughey’s character from “Dazed and Confused.”
A special mention must be made for Vince Vieluf, whom about nine people might remember as Seth Green’s brother from Rat Race. Vieluf’s character of Matt is so maddeningly irritating that I will do my best to avoid any movie with him in it in the future. Vieluf confuses screaming, barking, hitting and asinine facial expressions with slapstick comedy. He’s the kind of creature that was given Ritalin by the quart in grade school. He’s got all the obnoxiousness of Jim Carrey with absolutely none of the talent.
Veteran producer Casey La Scala takes his hand at directing with “Grind,” and it may prove to be a short drive down the directing path. Much of this film is a fantasy piece showing buxom model-type hotties flocking around skateboarding championships. However, the last time I saw a group of punks trying to slide their boards down a railing in a deserted parking lot, I seemed to have missed the Maxim models that supposedly hang around.
There is nothing remotely entertaining about this film. Even the blooper reel they show over the ending credits is nonsensical and aggravating. This movie is so bad that I think I would rather watch a double feature of “Gigli” and “Hollywood Homicide” before I subject myself again to “Grind.”