30 Movies in 30 Days: Brink!

Had I seen it before: Yes, but it’s been A LOOOOOONG time. Probably at LEAST 14 years. Which is a shame because it was one of my favorite DCOMS growing up.

Year: 1998

Director: Greg Beeman

Writer: Jeff Schechter

Where you can stream it now: Disney+

What IMDb says: Andy “Brink” Brinker and his in-line skating crew–Peter, Jordy, and Gabriella–who call themselves “Soul-Skaters” (which means they skate for the fun of it, and not for the money), clash with a group of sponsored skaters, Team X-Bladz–led by Val–with whom they attend high school in southern California. When Brink discovers his family is in financial trouble, he goes against the wishes of his parents and his friends and joins Team X-Bladz. Brink tries to lead a double life but will be able to pull it off?

Why I picked it: I was running out of time and needed a short movie, but after yesterday’s disaster that was Passport to Paris I wanted a GOOD short movie.

What I liked: Andy Brink is a great character. He’s likable and easy to root for, but also flawed in all the ways that good protagonists are. He does heroic things like stop racing when his opponent gets injured, or wanting to help earn money for his family when his dad is out of work. But then he’s also a little bit of a bad boy who will disobey his parents or get suspended for skating at school. Whether Brink is doing good things or bad things, we always know WHY he’s doing them. When he does do bad things, such as lie to his friends while he competes directly against them on a team they all hate, he at least has an admirable reason (wanting money for his family), unlike those twerps from Passport to Paris. All this means that we continue rooting for Brink even when he’s facing the negative consequences of his choices. We know that ultimately, Brink is a good kid and his heart is in the right place.

And ultimately, a big part of why Brink works as well as it does is because Brink actually DOES change. (This is again, something I lamented in my Passport to Paris review). Brink makes mistakes. He suffers consequences as the result of those mistakes. Those consequences force him to reevaluate his priorities. He learns a lesson, and when offered the same options again, he makes different choices. It’s the kind of growth that SHOULD happen in virtually any movie, and part of why Brink! works as well as it does.

I also want to take a moment to compliment Sam Horrigan, who plays Val (the bully who leads rival Team X-Bladz). As a kid, I never appreciated the importance of a good villain or a good performance by an actor playing a villain. Val is just the right amount of asshole who never quite becomes a caricature of the school bully trope. He’s mean, oftentimes just for his own amusement, but Horrigan sells it. I never felt like it didn’t make sense for this kid to being an obnoxious narcissistic asshole because hey, what 13-year-old kid who’s already signed a sponsorship deal for skating wouldn’t be?

There is also a scene in this movie that stuck with me since I was a child, and I think I’m a better person for it. It held up beautifully. It’s the scene where Brink’s father is giving him advice after he’s lost his friends over skating. Brink is under the mistaken impression that skating is “who I am” Dad explains that there’s a difference between “who you are” and “what you do.” It’s fine to love skating, but it’s dangerous to let a hobby become that all-consuming. Skating is great, but ultimately it’s Brink’s good heart and strong moral compass that make him special. I’m so glad I had that instilled in me at a young age, and I was worried that the scene wouldn’t age well, but boy howdy it did.

What I didn’t like: There are SO MANY scenes where Brink wears a helmet, but doesn’t clip the buckle. That helmet would just fall off if he actually fell, no? He’s being a bad role model for children.

Also, it would’ve been nice if more of his friends were fully fleshed out characters. Two of the three friends are just other white boys who like to skate, and the third is a Peruvian girl who doesn’t get a personality outside of being a girl and being from Peru. I know it’s a short made-for-tv movie, but I feel like they did SUCH a good job with both their primary protagonist and antagonist that it’s a shame more effort wasn’t put into the supporting characters.

A disclaimer that is neither a like nor dislike: There’s a lot of ska in this movie.

Will I watch it again: Yes! It has a huge nostalgia factor for me, and knowing that it still holds up now that I’m an adult makes it even better.

Who would enjoy it: People who love a feel-good sports movie that’s about a not-so-typical sport. Also a great one to show your kids to teach them the value of friendship!

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