As a child of the eighties I consider myself to be an aficionado of the films from that decade, primarily the pictures that have been written or created by the legendary John Hughes. Having grown up with these films I could see how filmmakers would want to pay homage to Mr. Hughes by making a movie with all the fun elements inspired by his movies and the wackiness that was the eighties. After watching SKATELAND I was utterly disappointed with the film that had hardly anything to do with a rolladium and felt ashamed when I saw that this film was dedicated to the memory of John Hughes. Ouch.
For those of you who could care less about the picture being dedicated to the late Hughes and plan on seeing the boring SKATELAND, don’t get too excited about the wonderful world of roller-skating. With only a handful of scenes that involve the rink or skating I was bummed that this picture was given a misleading title about a place that had very little to do with the actual movie. They could have called it Mall or Musicland for the two scenes that take place there and it would have made just as much sense as the poorly titled SKATELAND.
Rolling on, with an attempt to transport us back to the early eighties we meet rolladium employee Ritchie Wheeler (played by newcomer Shiloh Fernandez who looks like a perfect mix between Joaquin Phoenix and Emile Hirsch). Ritchie has graduated from high school and is uncertain where to take his future, despite the attempts by his little sister to get him focused on college applications. Between partying with friends, learning about and dealing with his parents divorce, Ritchie does not focus much on his future.
This flick feels like a self-important young-adult drama with forgettable characters and zero direction within the storyline. From the misleading title and opening scenes to tense and dramatic moments that lead nowhere I had a hard time focusing on this film and gave up figuring out where it was taking me.
Shiloh Fernandez put forth a decent performance as the lead, Wheeler. He gave appropriate emotion to his parent’s divorce but had zero chemistry with his longtime friend and love interest, Michelle (Ashley Greene, TWILIGHT). The filmmakers had to spell out their friendship and forgot to build any romantic tension. When Ritchie and Michelle take their relationship to the next level it didn’t feel organic or important. It happened without explanation or heart tugging excitement.
The filmmakers did not utilize Ashley Greene or her character enough. There were a few scenes where I thought she could have done a bit more with her friendly and sweet-tempered character. Greene’s performance was flat but I have a feeling that was partially due to the script and direction. The rest of the cast and characters did not do much to improve the storyline but I liked the cockiness from Michelle’s brother, Brent (played by Heath Freeman). As a loose cannon, Brent was entertaining to watch, probably because he was the only character with a personality in this snooze fest. One last complaint, I had a real issue with the costuming of this film. It lacked authenticity and felt like a knockoff filled with scraps of eighties nostalgia that one could find in a secondhand store.
A John Hughes film this is not. Just because it is set in the eighties, with an older teen character dealing with the hardships of growing up does not make it worthy of having the name John Hughes anywhere in this picture.
Video (2.40:1): Sharp picture for a drab movie.
Audio (5.1 DTS HD Master Audio): Decent audio for the dialogue driven film.
Deleted Scenes (34:06): Over a half hour of deleted scenes that were wisely cut from the film, the editors should have deleted a lot more scenes from the film.