THRASHIN’ (1986)

Directed By: David Winters
Written By: Paul Brown & Alan Sacks
Cinematography: Chuck Colwell
Editor: Lorenzo DeStefano & Nicholas Smith Production Designer: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Josh Brolin, Robert Rusler, Pamela Gidley, Josh Richman, Sherilyn Fenn, Chuck McCann, David Wagner, Tony Hawk, Tony Alva, Brooke McCarter Jr, Brett Marx, Mark Munski

Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.

Now I have to give a curve to this skateboarding movie. As it is nostalgic fun that I probably would have enjoyed if I had watched it when I was younger and when it had initially come out, but watching it now. 

It is funnier in unintentional ways other than just the styles of yesteryear. Though the film does raise some questions and gives way to many observations like… 

Why do the corporate sponsors and owners of skate and Nike companies in these 80s movies come across as pedophiles? As they are way too old and way too giddy to be around young people. 

The daggers are way too obvious in their sabotage. Especially laughing while their victim is getting stitched up. Right in his face. Is this a machismo thing? Or just I dare you to say something? 

Also, why is it a gang when it involves minorities but a crew or group of friends when all caucasian? In this movie and beyond. Nice to see Robert Rusler as the suave skateboard villain leader of the daggers. Even if his casting makes you wonder exactly how old these characters are supposed to be. 

It always amazes me to see Josh Brolin in early roles as until MOD SQUAD the movie I really didn’t start recognizing him from movies like THE GOONIES, but you know you’re in another era of movies. When the integrated skate park gang are the villains. 

The film has the usual teenage romance in between the skateboard drama as well as lame jokes. Though I am not a prude it is shocking how fast Josh Brolin and Pamela Gidley’s character hook up on their first date practically but I guess when it’s true love you just know. 

This is more a film for teen girls to watch and fall in love with probable hunky poster boys at the time, but strangely also a film that bypasses that audience making the film more advertised for teenage boys, who might be into the fad of the time skateboarding. Leaving a definite unintentional homoerotic charge throughout the film and in the scenes. As even the villain of the film seems more into his look and glamour above all else

The highlight of the film is the joust skate off and just how trusting and willing a female character is to hitchhike her way to California with random truckers, but hey this movie is presented all in good fun and in supposedly simpler times. 

And the RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS are in this movie performing!!!! Some added cool points for the film. Though you will find them in quite a few films. It also makes it feel more like a teen movie by having a noted band in the film and their performance being a centerpiece almost.

If looking for a totally tubular nostalgic blast from the past check out this film. Even though for all of its ridiculous juvenile fun. I just couldn’t get on the same wavelength. 

Grade: D+

PLUSH (2013)

Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke 
Written By: Catherine Hardwicke & Arty Nelson 
Cinematography By: Daniel Moder 
Editor: Julia Wong 

Cast: Emily Browning, Xavier Daniel, Cam Giganet, Thomas Dekker, Frances Fisher, Dawn Olivieri, Brandon Jay McLaren, Elizabeth Pena

Mourning the loss of her brother/collaborator, a young rocker struggles to write music while juggling a jealous husband, two kids, and a mysterious new guitarist who will stop at nothing to become the most important person in her life.

How the mighty have fallen, once upon a time Catherine Hardwicke was one of my favorite new directors with the films THIRTEEN and LORDS OF DOGTOWN I believed her to be a great new voice in filmmaking. Then she directed TWILIGHT an already practicing franchise. That would lead to bigger ad better things and her being more in demand. After that film, she still stayed making films centered around youth with films such as RED RIDING HOOD and THE NATIVITY STORY although this film really lends itself to a new low. I don’t know what attracted her to making this film because nothing about It is revolutionary or even interesting. It tries to be so many things or at least tries so many different subjects that it clearly struggles with an exact definition and seems lost, inauthentic and Worse a poseur. While it tries to have a punk rock ethic.

It has a horror ending and beginning. Though in between it plays like an erotic thriller set in the rock n roll music box that is barely erotic and the songs are pretty bad. Though give the film a soundtrack billed to itself.

The sex scenes are thankfully brief, but plentiful. The eroticism only is risqué and general serves it’s purpose in one scene. Even the opening scene really has nothing to do with most of the film until near the end and still offers little explanation.

It doesn’t help that Xavier Daniel and Emily browning have little of any chemistry together on screen. So it’s hard to believe her falling for him at all. There is also a scene where he directs a music video that is really bad and comes across as a student experimental film that we are forced to believe that everyone includes the band who are barely featured in the video thinks is genius. We also never even get to know the rest of the band members who are treated like bored guns though we are supposed I believe this band has been together for 10 years yet act no closer than new co-workers

There is even a sex scene thankfully not focusing on the main actors that feel unnecessary and just out there to spice things up though ends up more awkward and comedic than erotic or purposeful.

The film is predictable especially when we get more and more involved in the case her journalist husband is writing about for VANITY FAIR? Do we think this has anything to do with the rest of the movie for a reason? Of course. Do we think the foreshadowing of showing a ring that before her brother OD’s will come back later on in the film?

Now the film has a modest budget so it can’t all be glamorous and I am wondering is that why one death is more talked about rather than shown. Plus the film talks about the success of the band but never gives is a scale of their popularity are they actual stars trying to make a comeback or a successful indie band. As it seems they mostly play rock clubs instead of big concert venues. The lead singer seems to have money though not a lavish lifestyle. More modest than anything.

In fact, if they are an indie band it is one of the few things the movie did right by showing them as more modest and not millionaires with tons of paparazzi following them.

This film isn’t even good as an erotic thriller level, Like the ridiculous types, you would see late night on cable that was at least fun as they knew what they were. Here everything that feels ridiculous though is treated with utmost seriousness. I won’t even go into the third act reveals.

I was lured by not only director Catherine Hardwicke but also star Emily Browning. She is definitely earning a reputation with me at least of being a good actress, but only in it seems subpar movies as she is usually the best thing in them and I applaud her willingness to be fearless a tale chances on screen. I only wish it was for better films. Not only with this film but also SLEEPING BEAUTY and SUCKER PUNCH. 
I can admit to keeping coming back to her films partially as she has a haunting beauty and I will admit maybe I have a screen crush on her. Though it is harder and harder to look forward to films she is in. Luckily she has LEMONY SNICKET: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS and GOD HELP THE GIRL that are good and decent films that show her talent even the guilty pleasure THE UNINVITED.

Evan Rachel Wood was originally cast in the lead role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and Emily Browning was cast. Which was the same thing that happened with the film SUCKER PUNCH only Browning was replacing Amanda Seyfried. 

I only hope better and beyond for both director and star

Skip it.

Grade: F