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 Skateboard (1978)

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phanthach



Posts : 3
Join date : 2010-04-23

PostSubject: Skateboard (1978)   Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:38 pm

"Skateboard" is a late-70's exploitation movie so bad it cannot be saved. The film centers on an unkempt schlub, a beefy deadbeat named Manny (bald on top but shaggy on the sides) who is attacked by a random troupe of street youths on skateboards. (Isn't that always the way?) Manny scolds the punks and then gets a phone call from his bookie, to whom he owes mucho dinero. Manny, the brain-lame slob, as played by Allen (Goorwitz) Garfield, has to think of a quick lie to stall his threatening shylock.

"I'm going after the youth market," he says, at which point the bookie parrots the sentence back in question form.

"Yeah, the youth market," says Manny, bluffing, "I'm going to start a skateboard team." You've just heard the movie's most memorable dialogue. Manny's understanding bookie gives him an extension... a new due date for the debt which happens to coincide with the "Skateboarding Championships," an event which Manny, at this point in the film, has no idea exists. Ain't it a small world? Manny then recruits (or maybe kidnaps, as these children don't seem to have parents) the dead-end street kids who are so prevalent in films of this era. Like the bastard children of "The Bad News Bears" or the crude campers from "Meatballs," these early-adolescents drink, smoke, and curse from furry heads of hair and heavy-lidded eyes. Professional skateboarding was in its infancy at the time of the film, and the "stunts" that the kids do are so lame you'll be humiliated FOR them. Handstands on skateboards? A traffic-cone slalom in a high school gymnasium? Stepping the board end-over-end for the "Walking The Dog" trick? Skateboard Downhill Racing?!? We're asked to believe that people will pay good money to see such inanity, because the fans come out in droves, cheering on these semi-determined hobbyists with a fervor found only at the seventh game of the World Series and, maybe sometimes, the Superbowl.

The film is not as exciting as I've described it, shot in a care-less documentary style in which the director does not even bother to set up shots. Characters wander in and out of the frame at random... everything is shot in a long master and there is zero coverage- no intercutting or close-ups... and the camera does not move at all. But where the film is truly awful is the lead performance of Allen Garfield. I considered myself a fan of this overlooked actor before I saw this film. His unmistakable apathy disgusted me... he just didn't care. I also don't believe that there was ever a finished script for this film, since most of the dialogue is clearly improvised; it is not only repetitive and overlapping, it is too astoundingly stupid to have been planned beforehand. Bad enough but Mr. Garfield takes it to the next level.

The Manny character does most of the talking in the film, which in Garfield's hands becomes neurotic, ineffectual, repetitive, stream-of-conscious babble. I wish I could describe it better but it defies organized thought. He yells at the children constantly, who ignore him as if he weren't there, and he responds to all exchanges by muttering under his breath and bitching like an old crank. He is also so self-indulgent in his grousing that you'd think he was unaware he was being filmed. By the predictable finale I didn't sympathize with him- I hated him. One of the characters- in what I had to believe was an unscripted, improv'd exchange- actually tells Allen to shut his mouth so that someone else can get a word in. Are you starting to imagine how bad this really is?

In conclusion "Skateboard" is a movie so bad it's bewildering, and there is nothing here for anyone to enjoy. You can either trust a man who is able to find good in almost *every* bad movie or you can experience it for yourself; please remember you've been warned. If you really want to be depressed just consider the fact that I spent more time and effort on reviewing this film than anyone involved did making the actual movie. Goodnight, folks.
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