Remember, a review is just one person's opinion. Up front, let me tell you this is a film to go and see. You'll enjoy the skateboarding, you'll be touched by the story, and you'll probably go home thinking about some similar situations in your own life. That's what a good film does - it reflects life back to us and makes us think. HARDFLIP will entertains you, moves you, and maybe help you deal with some of your own issues.
Caleb Jones [Randy Wayne of TO SAVE A LIFE] has no father and a mother who's working two jobs to make ends meet. His goal in life is to become a sponsored skater and get away from it all. When his mother becomes ill, he's forced to deal with her illness and his own lack of responsibility. When he finds some old love letters, it sets him off on a quest to locate the father he never knew...who lives in the next town.
When tragic circumstances seem to bring the father and son together, Caleb pushes his father away, angry and hurt that he has never been part of his life. Caleb's story reminds us what can happen when we let go of our anger and pain and become willingto forgive those who've hurt us most, just as God forgives us.
Johnny Remo has already proven his ability to capture great sports footage [CUTBACK], and HARDFLIP is a great follow-up. With skating sequences that could be an advertisement for ESPN, he shows his mastery of the camera with a fast-moving subject. From a technical and production standpoint, he improves with each film. A minor complaint is that I could tell you exactly when stunt skaters were performing vs. the actors playing the skaters, because we only saw them from the hips down. Every time. Surely there's another way around that?
The music of the film fit perfectly. Rebellious styles that you would hear when visiting any skate park are infused with lyrics that speak of anger, forgiveness, hurt, bitterness, and a love that meets us at our most painful places. It provides an excellent backdrop to the film and is the pulse of the story.
"It" Actors for Faith-Based Films
Remo also makes good use of actors who are either appearing in 70% of all films made from a faith perspective [John Schneider], those who got their first starring roles in films made from a faith perspective [Randy Wayne], or those who seem to be testing the waters [Rosanna Arquette]. He makes good use of their skill and experience most of the time. Randy Wayne is not my favorite actor - he has a pretty flat delivery most of the time and explodes at the points he's supposed to - there's just no happy medium. I'd like to see him develop a greater depth. I believe the ability is there, but it needs to be drawn from him. He's a bit old to be playing a rebellious teenager, but his flat delivery helps sell the teenager who really doesn't want to talk with parental units.
John Schneider is a solid actor and can be relied upon to deliver an appropriate performance. I am disappointed that his most dramatic scene is way underacted - as though he never reached the emotional depths his character really should have experienced. But as the dad of a teenager he suddenly meets, he's very believable.
Strong but Predictable Story
The storyline is strong - we can never hear too much about forgiveness, or the bitterness and pain that creeps in when it's not offered. It may be the issue that keeps most people from living their lives to the fullest. But it's predictable. I can tell you where the story is going. There are a couple of surprises along the way - some that fit in well with the overall story, and some that come really out of left field - and should have stayed there.
Overall, it's a strong film, and my notes are just picky items. Could the film have been better? Yes, and that's true for all films.
With each movie they make, Johnny Remo and his team just keep getting better, so I'm excited for you to see this one, and I'm excited to see what's next.
HARDFLIP is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material and teen drug and alcohol use.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Angela previewed HARDFLIP.