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Sundance 2010 Review: Anthony Burns' SKATELAND

Directed by: Anthony Burns

Written by: Anthony Burns, Brandon Freeman and Heath Freeman

Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Ashley Green (Twilight), Heath Freeman, Brett Cullen (Lost), Melinda McGraw (Dark Knight) and Haley Ramm

Synopsis: It’s 1983, and Skateland, the roller rink and local hangout of a small town, is becoming a fading memory of an earlier time, when disco and roller-skating were king. The party scene is getting stale, and 19-year-old Ritchie's romantic life is as cloudy as his future. He struggles to make sense of it all, and decisions do not come easily to the carefree young man. When tragedy strikes his friends and family, Ritchie must face the music—and make the biggest decision of his life.

Review:
 
An incredibly detailed look at the sights, sounds, and fashions of the 80's, Skateland plays like an 80's movie mix-tape, with some serious odes to the late great John Hughes, and his films of that era. The film is even dedicated to Hughes, as if his influence wasn't obvious enough.

But the film tries to fit way too much into one story. The main plot lines and overall pace of the film would have greatly benefited from some simple fat trimming. But they could have included everything and more, as this is something that could have made for a great TV show... like Wonder Years great. But there's just not enough time to invest in all of the stories to make it an exciting watch. I wish we could have spent more time with these characters and story arcs.

Heath Freeman co-wrote the film and stars as Brent, Greene's older brother and the Ritchie's best friend.  So no surprise that the two funniest scenes are speeches and stories he gives -- a spot on Christopher Walken impression and a detailed story -- complete with fantasy style flashbacks -- of how he was seduced by the wife of one of his motorcross racing sponsors.



Greene and Fernandez have great chemistry portraying two childhood friends. Though they are fun to watch together, it is painfully predictable that they will get together before the end of the film.

The Skateland roller rink isn't the center of attention like the name and taglines ensue, but it does add a charming backdrop and sets the tone for the opening of the movie. The movie is filled with a slew of 80's hits that will make you itch for a copy of the soundtrack, or throw together a quick 80's playlist on your iPod.

It's not perfect, but Skateland is a promising debut for director Anthony Burns. Skateland tries to straddle the line of too many different tones, that the comedic and dramatic charms it does have is often lost.

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