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Friday, August 15, 2003

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

The skateboarders in the teen comedy "Grind" lose their balance a few times and crack their backs hard. But the movie seems more obsessed with butt cracks -- along with scatological humor, grotesque adults, road-trip cliches and the refusal of its four lead characters to comprehend that the Offspring song was satiric: The world really doesn't love wannabes.


RATING: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual content and language.

STARRING: Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf, Adam Brody, Joey Kern.

DIRECTOR: Casey La Scala.


In other words, "Grind" is one of those movies whose titles perfectly describe the experience of watching them. To use the skateboarding definition, it's the equivalent of a skater scraping his axles across your head.

Eric Rivers (Mike Vogel) wants to be a pro skateboarder in the worst way, and that's the one he chooses. He begs, browbeats and beguiles three friends to join him on the Jimmy Wilson tour, furtively following the skating star (Jason London) across the country, hoping he'll notice their talent -- just like a thousand other wannabes.

Dustin (Adam Brody), who plans to go to college, lets himself get dragged along, with his educational fund financing the trip. The rubber-faced Matt (Vince Vieluf) screams a lot, punches your arm for no good reason, sleeps with a female mannequin and stuffs most of a 6-inch sub sandwich into his mouth in one bite. Sweet Lou (Joey Kern), a few years older, fancies himself a ladies' man trolling for the new girls at school. If he were that cool, he wouldn't hang with these losers.

Like the movie itself, their road trip turns into a disaster, evidenced by cameos from Bobcat Goldthwait, Tom Green and the guys from "Jackass." They're not nearly as bizarre as the geek customer at a chili restaurant, the man-mountain rushing to the porta-potty, the tour-bus driver with a face only Freddy Krueger could love.

The skateboarding sequences, except for the climactic showdown, look the same after a while, and are obviously the work of stunt people.

So why can't audiences get surrogates to watch movies like this, so we don't have to?

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