I know Josh Brolin is a well respected, Academy Award nominated actor these days, but to me he’ll always be a Goonie. He was never one of the big names when it came to teen stars of the 80’s, but he’s succeeded where many of his peers failed when it comes to keeping his career going beyond the teen idol years. The road wasn’t easy, though. A year after searching for One-Eyed Willie’s treasure he starred in this skateboarding epic. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s 1986’s Thrashin’.
Brolin plays Cory Webster, an amateur skateboarder who comes to LA to stay with some friends and compete in a variety of competitions. Cory and his buds from the valley, The Ramp Locals, are somehow the mortal enemies of a gang of Venice Beach skate-punks known as The Daggers. So, it ends up being a problem that Cory gets the hots for the lovely Chrissy (Pamela Gidley). She’s visiting from Indiana and happens to be the little sister of Daggers head honcho Hook (Robert Rusler).
When Cory ignores Hook’s demands that he stay away from his sister, things escalate. The Daggers chase Cory around LA on their skateboards one night, but when they can’t nab him they decide to burn down our heroes’ precious skate ramp. This leads to a battle between Cory and Hook that’s like a combination between skateboarding and the joust show at Medieval Times. It leaves Cory with a broken right arm, which mean he needs to relearn his boarding technique to defeat Hook in the big downhill race.
I will say this about Thrashin’, the skating scenes are pretty cool. I was never really into skateboarding in my younger days. Truth be told, I was too chicken to go much beyond three miles per hour on one of those things. Still, I’ve often found films that focus on skateboarding culture to be somewhat intriguing. In this film we get sequences of both downhill and pool skating competitions. Famous skaters like Tony Hawk and Steve Caballero do put in appearances in the film and thus the skating sequences are certainly the highlight. Plus, the whole skate-jousting thing is hard not to love.
As for the story, there’s not a whole lot of meat to it. It seems like the basic idea was to do a skater version of Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending. Actually, not that bad of an idea, except that our Romeo is a bit of a drip. I mean, Josh Brolin has more than proven himself since this, but he’s severely lacking in charisma here. Pamela Gidley (Cherry 2000 herself) is much more appealing as Chrissy, but I spent most of the movie wondering what she sees in Cory. The most interesting character is Robert Rusler’s Hook who, while an effective villain, may have made the whole film a bit better had he been cast as the lead. While we’re on the cast, I should also mention a few other familiar faces. Sherilyn Fenn, fresh off of Just One of the Guys, gets a few good moments as Hook’s girlfriend. Then there’s the comic relief character of Cory’s gang, Bozo. I spent half the movie trying to figure out why he looked so familiar. Turns out he’s played by Brett Marx, who played Jimmy in the Bad News Bears movies and is, in fact, the great nephew of Harpo Marx (who he looks a lot like).
The film does feature some pretty awesome mid-80’s music. Artists like The Bangles, The Circle Jerks, Devo, and Fine Young Cannibals all make contributions. The highlight, though, is an actual appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers Babies. Not trying to be mean there, they just look so young! They belt out the song “Blackeyed Blonde” and I don’t blame the filmmakers at all for letting the story come to a dead stop so they can perform. It’s a showstopper moment.
In the end it’s hard to say whether or not Thrashin’ succeeds as a film. The acting and storytelling are lackluster at best. However, the film clearly realizes that it’s target audience is more interested in the skate action and soundtrack, both of which had me thoroughly entertained.