Ashley Greene as Michelle Burkham
Brett Cullen as David Wheeler
Shiloh Fernandez as Ritchie Wheeler
D.W. Moffett as Jimmy Houston
Taylor Handley as Kenny Crawford
James LeGros as Clive Burkham
Haley Ramm as Mary Wheeler
A.J. Buckley as Teddy
Casey LaBow as Candy Boyce
Melinda McGraw as Debbie Wheeler
Ellen Hollman as Deana Trammel
David Sullivan as Luther
Heath Freeman as Brent Burkham
Krystal Mayo as Skating Rink Patron
James Hébert as Tommy Dillday
Directed by Anthony Burns
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 98 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“It was a time when life was easy… in a place they thought would never change.
Ashley Green (‘The Twilight Saga’) and Shiloh Fernandez (‘Red Riding Hood’) co-star in this powerful coming-of-age drama that took the film festival circuit by storm. For Ritchie Wheeler (Fernandez), a carefree teenager growing up in a small Texas town, Skateland is more than just a local roller rink… it’s a fading symbol of friendship and good times. Now, everything’s changing and the one thing Ritchie can hang on to is his budding romance with the sweet and beautiful Michelle (Green). But one fateful night will force Ritchie to face the future and make the most important decision of his life.”
“Skateland” is rated PG-13 for violence, some sexuality, language, substance abuse and smoking – involving teens.
After “Skateland” did so poorly at the box office, I hate to give it a bad review. It feels a lot like beating a dead horse, but I have to call it as I see it and I simply didn’t care for this film. Here’s why.
First of all, the creators try to instill a sense of nostalgia in everything, but they seem to be trying too hard. They show the early ’80s fashions, play the music, and have sets filled with typical props from the era. But something about it feels rather forced. You don’t simply see David writing his stories on a computer. The camera zooms in as if to say, “Hey look! He’s using a Commodore 64!” Then there’s the fact that David works at a roller skating rink. It has little bearing on the plot at all and could have actually been set anywhere. You end up feeling a bit cynical as the movie tries to make you feel nostalgic.
David is also an unsympathetic character. He’s yet another handsome man-child that can’t find purpose in life and would rather party and work a dead-end job than work to his full potential. As he has two beautiful women fawning over him, it’s a little hard to say, “Poor fellow. I feel sorry for him.” He’s even more unsympathetic when his younger sister fills out college applications for him in an effort to kick him out of the nest and he freaks out. The child has more sense than him. We are also told that David really, really loves roller skating but we never actually see why. Considering the movie is called “Skateland,” it would have made sense to spend screen time on why it’s his passion. Same with the writing – we constantly see him doing it, but we never get a sense of why he’s passionate about it.
The writers made other questionable choices, too. In one scene David’s mother is caught having an affair. She then sits down with David over a pizza and has a heart to heart discussion about how many men she’s actually had sexual flings with over the years. I don’t care who you are, no son wants to hear about that. Especially while sitting on the floor eating pizza. It’s just wrong, man.
The story is also quite predictable. When you see a lead character show up lacking direction, you can pretty much bet he’ll find it by the end. When a group of bullies show up and pick a fight with the hero’s friends, you can count on them having a darker confrontation later in the film. And when the hero runs off his loving girlfriend, you can expect them to reunite for the finale. Every step of this film is predictable like that.
I’m not sure who to recommend “Skateland” to. If you’re a fan of roller skating, there’s not enough of it in here to even justify calling it “Skateland.” If you’re a fan of nostalgic dramas, you’re better off watching “American Graffitti.” If you like seeing angsty teens trying to figure out life after high school, you’d probably rather watch “Dazed and Confused.” In short, this is one to pass on.
Some deleted scenes are included on this DVD, but they’re not terribly noteworthy. I think a featurette on the creation of the period setting would have been interesting, but that was not included.