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Loren Eaton

Movie Review

Forget fortune. Forget fame. Forget furthering world peace or contributing to the betterment of society. All Eric wants to do with his life is skateboard. But despite his passion, he just can’t seem to get anyone to sponsor him. And sponsorship provides so much more than just little things like food and clothing: It brings respect, honor and highly coveted slots at professional skateboarding competitions.

But Eric’s not without a plan. He’s going to follow his skateboarding legend Jimmy Wilson across country all summer long while popping kickflips, shredding street courses, and just hoping to get noticed by his idol. All he has to do is get his one-dimensional friends — Dustin (the uptight, college-bound brainiac), Sweet Lou (the slick womanizer who prizes his skills of seduction) and Matt (the hygienically challenged goof-off) — together for a road trip. Being very much interested in fame, fortune and the affections of scantily clad skating groupies, the three heartily jump on board and set off to have the summer of their lives.

positive elements: Eric displays unrelenting perseverance, refusing to abandon his aspirations until he has done everything in his power to achieve them. His example inspires Dustin, Matt and Lou, and bonds the four together in a tight friendship. Eric also stands up for a comely skateboarder named Jamie when she’s rudely insulted. Matt reunites with his estranged parents and proclaims his love for them. [Spoiler Warning] After Eric gets a professional sponsorship, he showers young novices with a graciousness he didn’t receive when he was in their shoes.

spiritual content: When stranded in the desert, Eric looks for a “sign” and receives one when Jimmy Wilson’s tour bus drives right past him. A live performance by the band Blindside features an extended cut of the song “Pitiful,” which testifies to Christ’s redeeming grace. While looking for inspiration, Matt imagines angels descending from heaven.

sexual content: In the world of Grind, women exist mainly as eye candy or objects of sexual desire. They constantly exhibit sleazy fashion sense — a fact that the camera and the film’s male protagonists often dwell on — and hang around famous skateboarders for no reason other than to hook up with them. Sweet Lou’s sole desire in life appears to be bedding as many women as possible (he schedules multiple scores each day and brags about being with nubile high school girls). Almost anyone he comes on to succumbs to his charms and a bouncing van implies that he has intercourse with a comely groupie (she’s later seen pulling up her pants at a distance). A private party hosted by skating pros features slinky exotic dancers and fondling couples; silhouettes show Sweet Lou spanking a performer. Matt urges women to strip off their tops for him and laments that he’s not getting any action despite the fact he’s no longer a virgin (which prompts Dustin to make a crack about bestiality). A skateboard shop clerk discusses how he arranges his anatomy. Eric’s dad passionately kisses his trophy wife and slaps her on the rear. Dustin makes sexual motions with a mop. Eric jokes about masturbation. Dustin mentions how he bought pornography for the guys. Matt is “violated” by a lizard as he sleeps. A 12-year-old talks about wanting to go to a strip club. Various characters grab their crotches. Eric and Jamie kiss several times.

violent content: Matt and Dustin have a habit of playfully slugging one another. When Matt prematurely yanks a cast off his arm, Dustin squeezes the injured limb, eliciting wails of pain from Matt. An angry father threatens to castrate Sweet Lou and attacks his van with a baseball bat. A wild crash sends a skateboard through a car’s windshield. Matt violently shoves a clown. A particularly irresponsible scene shows guys throwing fireworks into cars as they tear down the highway. A man tumbles off an ATV. Outtakes feature a number of skateboarders wiping out.

crude or profane language: A tire blowout muffles a use of the f-word. Even so, there are about 10 completely audible uses of the s-word, along with around 40 other profanities and crudities. God and Jesus’ names are abused about a dozen times. A couple of obscene gestures crop up.

drug and alcohol content: When trying to convince Eric to take a job at a hardware store, his dad cites “sniffing lacquer” as a perk. A party features alcohol that leaves one person unconscious. After a competition, a man exclaims, “The 40s are on me!”

other negative elements: The film opens with Eric skating through the halls of his high school right before graduation and tearing down a banner emblazoned with the question “What are you doing with your life?” That symbolic action represents Eric continual striving against what’s “sensible” in order to achieve his dream. And while pursuing one’s dreams with passion is admirable, Grind refuses to grant any credence to the idea of approaching life with measured consideration and responsibility; it’s either a full-bore, adrenalized and spontaneous or it’s a boring subsistence frittered away in pointless middle class toil.

Scatology has its own special place in the film. Matt constantly breaks wind and murmurs “greetings from the interior” after one particularly noxious episode. The guys press a cold soda to Matt’s crotch after he pulls a muscle. After consuming multiple bowls of chili, a man messily defiles a public restroom (implied). An antagonistic skateboarding team moons Eric and the guys. Later, the four urinate together by the side of the road (Matt accidentally sprays Dustin and the camera glimpses their naked rears). A young boy explosively splatters Dustin with vomit after eating too many chili cheese fries. The guys knock over a row of porta-potties and have to clean up the mess.

Songs by troublesome acts such as Sean Paul, Rage Against the Machine and Trapt make appearances. An insulting moment features Matt mistaking a little person for a child.

conclusion: Grind is in a bind. You see, to the uninitiated the term conjures up images of dirty dancing instead of skateboarding stunts. A title such as “Ollie” or “Fakie 180 Shove-It” might have brought the sport of Tony Hawk and Chad Muska more to the forefront. But Grind‘s moniker ends up being appropriate since the film is more interested in randy sexuality than halfpipes. In fact, so much time ends up being devoted to plunging bodices, shimmying rears and taut tummies (and rampant sexual innuendo and scatological quips while we’re at it) that one begins to feel as if he’s stumbled into an edited version of the Tom Green vehicle Road Trip. Those who want actual thrashing action would do better with ESPN’s Ultimate X. While that PG-rated flick may be less than perfect, it aims higher than the belt buckle, something Grind can’t boast.

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Loren Eaton