For some teenager, Skateland will be a revelation. It’s a coming of age story set in the 80s about a kid working for an about-to-close skating rink who hangs out with his buddies and has no real ambitions in life. The first movie that came to mind when I heard about it, because I’m not very creative, was Adventureland, but almost immediately, the film had a very Dazed & Confused feel to it with a little Empire Records thrown in. I think the place that plays the part of Skateland is actually the same place the kids hang out in in D&C, but couldn’t tell for certain.
Anyway, the comparisons to those other flicks definitely loomed over my viewing of this film, but unlike those others, this one’s mission statement seems to be “let’s dump on this kid as much as possible.” The following are SPOILERS, I guess, so if you don’t want anything ruined for you, move along. Our main character, Ritchie not only finds out his parents are getting a divorce and that his mom is cheating on his dad, but has been for seven or so years. His older buddy who went off to become a race car driver also comes back into town and there’s clearly something wrong with him. That dude winds up hitting on a local thug’s girlfriend which puts makes them looming around the background ready to start trouble. Ritchie’s also trying to figure out what’s going to happen between him and longtime friend Michelle (Ashley Greene, who looks like Kristen Stewart so much she might be a slightly altered clone). Oh, there’s also the matter of what he’s going to do with the rest of his life.
The movie feels like a series of vignettes, but by the end of the story–which gets even sadder as it progresses–everything comes together nicely. Overall, it’s a solid movie with good performances by the whole cast and nice directing by newbie Anthony Burns, but it’s really difficult for me to separate it from the other movies I mentioned. For a kid who hasn’t seen nearly as many movies, though, this will be like those other movies I mentioned were to me when I was a kid. But, having seen them, it’s hard not to compare and that can make for a distracting viewing experience. I’m definitely curious to check out what other movies the cast has done (not Twilight) and whatever Burns makes next. Lots of raw goodness that just needs maybe a bit of refinement.