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Movie Review

Lose the R-rated content and you can think of ExtremeDays as a mixture of Road Rules and Road Trip. Add to that elements of an ESPN documentary and glue it together with an "almost" love story.Following college graduation, childhood friends Matt, Corey, Will and Brian set out to experience their long-held dream of taking a West Coast road trip—participating in (and watching) extreme sports along the way. After a summer spent raising funds at their poorly paying jobs, the foursome set out in their Joyota (half Jeep, half Toyota) from Los Angeles with a meager $847.53. Mexico is first on the agenda for some sunning and surfing. Once there, however, Corey learns that his "rich" Grandpa Gee has died in Washington state, leaving him an "opulent" inheritance. So the guys load up the Joyota and head north. Making a pit stop in L.A., they meet up with Matt’s cousin, Jessie. She’s just blown an engine in her pickup and needs a ride to the University of Washington.Add another body to the Joyota.Dune riding, snowboarding, skateboarding, cliff jumping, rock climbing and paintball wars make for a far-from-normal trek up the coast.

positive elements: Friendships are strong. Family is important. The guys’ "blemishes" are visible, but overall this troupe is clean-cut and likeable. Even with money being in short supply, Brian demonstrates a generous side—giving away all their groceries to a homeless family. Fulfillment is found by living life on the edge (and a bit on the zany side with frequent practical jokes) without once engaging in drinking, drugs, sex, profanity or rebellion. Jessie is strong, confident and not one to be swayed from her moral convictions by peer pressure or others’ expectations.

spiritual content: Created by Christian screenwriters Eric Hannah and Craig Detweiler, ExtremeDays' evangelistic content was deliberately throttled back. God, however, is mentioned several times. He’s credited with supplying a "playground" for surfing and snow for winter sports. In one scene around a campfire, Jessie confides that her dad abandoned her family when she was a child. She tells of finding strength in the two-word Bible verse, "Jesus wept," realizing that "God understood." Although admitting past mistakes, Jessie makes it clear that she has chosen to live sexually abstinent. In a conversation between Brian and Will about their sister’s childhood death from leukemia, Will remarks, "Don’t you think it hurt God to watch Amanda suffer?" Cousin Matt describes Jessie as someone who "prays like a hundred times a day" (although viewers never see this spiritual side of her). The film concludes with a voiceover of Will saying, "When God throws a curve ball, don’t duck. You just might miss something."

sexual content: When the five young adults occasionally stop over at a hotel, Jessie gets her own room. Following a long kiss while sitting poolside, Jessie, sensing her affection for Brian "could lead to more," calls a halt to the physical. Brian reacts angrily, hurling insults and tossing furniture. The following morning, the guys wake to find Jessie gone. She’s had enough of Brian’s pressuring.. In a note she explains, "I trusted guys that said ‘I love you’ and woke up the next morning alone. I’m not going to do it again. It may sound crazy, but I’m waiting for my wedding ring." A rare gem for teen moviegoers!

violent content: When the quintet, tired from their travels, show up at a campground, they discover that only one site is available. To make matters worse, a van-load of outdoorsmen arrive at the same time. To determine who gets the site, the would-be campers resort to a karate fight (the staging is slapstick and executed for laughs). Jessie loses her temper with Brian when he teases her for failing to master a snowboarding trick, punching him squarely in the nose (she apologizes later). Upset over losing Jessie, Brian throws all the pool furniture into the pool. At a supermarket, the guys have grocery-cart races down the aisle and wind up demolishing several stands of product (they do, however, restock).

crude or profane language: No profanities. One guy jokes about peeing his pants. Another recites a skateboarding poem that mentions the willingness to "crush my privates on the rail."

drug and alcohol content: None. The guys have a chugging contest in Mexico, but use hot sauce, not Tequila.

other negative elements: One scene—prominently featured in ExtremeDays’ advertising—features the four guys igniting their flatulence (a potentially dangerous stunt if copied at home). Also, Brian wagers Corey $100 that he can win Jessie over (the guys declare that IOUs are not acceptable this time, leading this critic to speculate that "gambling" has been an ongoing childhood pattern for the two that’s mutually understood not to be serious). Ghost stories are told around a campfire.

conclusion: If MTV would have made this film, you can bet the main characters would be hopping in and out of bed, guzzling six-packs, smoking dope and using profanities. How else could five college grads have fun? ExtremeDays proves that living large, but living clean can lasso plenty of fans. ExtremeDays is quirky enough, the characters believable enough, and the sports high energy enough to succeed.

Hopefully, ExtremeDays will garner a mainstream audience for director Eric Hannah, and that this platform allows him to go deeper into spiritual truth in future projects (something he has steadfastly declared he would like to do). Until then, this film, while containing a few nuggets of truth, is really more about having good clean fun. And in today’s climate, the idea that it’s possible to have good clean fun is a message teens need to hear more often.

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