Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #40: Thrashin' (1986)

Him: Thrashing man - it's just an aggressive style of skatin'. We thrash.
Her: What do you thrash?"
Him: ....What do you got?


This movie is one of the most 80s films I've ever seen. It made me feel so strange.

It also sports a really young Josh Brolin in his second film role - just after the Goonies. Like Goonies, he's a thoroughly unlikable slab of beefcake. Thrashin' basically gives him the same character, but is centered on the California skateboard culture that was, at that time, just starting to pick up mainstream attention. It's filled with girls in bikinis, punks in denim vests, and brightly coloured valley-boy neon t-shirts. It's a skater romance, like West Side Story with boards and without singing, and oddly enough, is directed by David Winters - who worked as a dancer on West Side Story.

According to the film, in L.A. everybody boards. This movie is 40% skate tricks, and Dogtown is a skate park. When you go to a club, say, you bring your board and dance with it. You'll dance with other boarders and do tricks on the dance floor to a mostly not-very-risque New Wave soundtrack. DEVO, thankfully, is on there. At the club you might chance to see a performance by a new band called the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which was the scene in the movie that apparently scored the least with preview audiences. It's really very surreal.

I love 80s films where everyone looks really edgy and metal, but is presented with the glossiest camera work alongside the tamest audience friendly music they could find. It's really dorky and funny. It's forky. So forky that the film eventually steps out of silly land and into absolutely ridiculous territory when Brolin has to 'joust', which means he has to face his enemies on skate boards and swing padded flails at each other. The padded flails are shaped like hearts. Which is about the gentlest and most impractical way you could try to harm someone:

1: It's padded enough not to hurt that much.
2: It wouldn't really knock you off your skateboard.
3: It just degenerates into a fist fight anyway.

So: I love time capsule movies. This one's a wonderfully bad 80s romp. Best part: Brolin brought through a skateboard factory and shown advanced board designs, built to withstand nuclear attack.

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