Home > Movies > The amazing races (of Hollywood lore)

The amazing races (of Hollywood lore)

A few weeks back, I was on a business trip, and I woke up in the hotel at around 7 a.m. Our first meeting wasn’t until 10 a.m, so I’d normally use that time to catch up on email and other work inanities. On that morning, though, I couldn’t get the wireless web connection to work. I tried everything I knew, but nada… I was off the grid.

Rather than panic, I took this as a sign from God, Allah, Jehovah, Zeus and T-Mobile Hotspot that I needed to kick back, watch some TV and chill out. Like most guys I know, I first watched SportsCenter. After that, I flipped around and found – NOT A DAMN THING.

Luckily (depending on how you look at it), HBO was showing Airborne, a 1993 film about a surfer teen from Cali who moves to Cincinnati because… well, I’m not exactly sure why. The whole plot was like Karate Kid in reverse, geographically speaking. And, like Ralph Macchio as the Kid, it’s all about finding your way in a new town with ass-hole kids trying everything short of murder to keep you down.

Funny things about Airborne:

  • It starred Shane McDermott as Mitch, the fish-out-of-water surfer guy. He later did a one-episode stint in Law and Order and a soap opera. He’s now selling real estate in Galveston. Airborne is a bad movie – so bad that it sent a guy reeling to selling cottages in Galveston!
  • The movie also showcased some future stars – Jack Black as a punk-ass bully and Seth Green as a geeky wannabe. At least one of those was a harbinger of the future.
  • Like all movies from 1984-1994, this movie featured Edie McClurg. I think it was a federal regulation to cast her. Stupid Reaganomics.

The very worst part of Airborne was the climax of the movie – a rollerblade race down a hill in Cincinnati. Now, if you weren’t aware, Cincy is apparently built into the side of a mountain so high and steep that it allows you to descend at 25-50 mph for approximately 20 minutes. There were two teams – Mitch and the underdogs vs. the alpha dogs with Jack Black in tow. Lots of shenanigans and gamesmanship. One guy skated into the water. Good times.

Why rollerblading you ask? Well, is that really important? Something about everyone in the town playing rollerhockey, and Mitch was an expert rollerblader from his Cali days… Oh shit, it’s too lame to describe. Just watch for the next time it plays on HBO (seriously, I’ve seen it once a week since).

Once I got over the badness of the movie, I started to think… what other movies end with bizarre, out-of-the-blue races? My mind immediately went to Better Off Dead and the climactic ski race between Lane and that blond dude. At least that movie was an all-out comedy, so the race was a bit hokey, but that fit the tone of the movie.

I’m looking for suggestions for other movies with hilariously bad races at the culmination of the movie. Keep ’em coming…

Categories: Movies
  1. BatchDog
    January 24, 2007 at 9:55 am

    The year was 1986. The movie was “Rad”.

    The story of Cru Jones, a young man who can overcome all obstacles that prevent him from participating in the BMX race “Helltrack.” As he works towards his dream, Cru falls in love with Christian, an amateur racer. With the help of Christian and his friends, can Cru’s “Rad Racing Team” defeat the top BMX factory rider, Bart Taylor ?

    Typical teenage movie, with a great ending race. Cru beats Bart with a 360* at the finish line. Just guessing on this (since it has been years since I have seen it), but I can see Cru winning on Helltrack, then having Bart Taylor come over and say something motivational like “Kid, I didn’t think you had it in ya.” BTW, Bart Taylor was played by Olympic champion Bart Conner! When do we see Sasha Cohen take on the silver screen??!

    The cast had a few future mini-stars… Lori Laughlin, Ray Walston (Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High)

    This was three years after the release of perhaps the best BMX movie (did I really write that?) ever — BMX Bandits. More on that in another reply.

  2. BatchDog
    January 24, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I remember watching “BMX Bandits” back in the ’80s. Nicole Kidman was 16 at the time and was the main reason I took up “freestyling” back in the day. Sadly, we didn’t have a dirt track on which to race, so I tried my hand at standing on the bike rail unsuccessfully and attempting to get some air on a buddies quarter pipe. Something about me + my K-mart Huffy didn’t equal big air.

    Anyway, the end of the movie (if I remember right) featured the three BMX bandits being chased by the bank robbers. Not really a big race, but hilarious cheese nonetheless. Here is a brief recap of that gem of Australian cinema… you can also find scenes on youtube.


    If you were an Australian teenager in the 1980’s chances are you would of caught “BMX Bandits” at the local cinema. It was the ultimate bike flick for teenagers, a white-knuckle thrill-ride of bike stunts and slapstick action comedy. “BMX Bandits” features A-list Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman in her first major starring role. See a youthful 16 year-old Nicole as you have never seen her before, dressed in a BMX bike suit, complete with helmet and a blazing mass of curly red-hair. This critically acclaimed teen action flick from Down Under was nominated for 4 AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards including, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actor (David Argue) and Best Screenplay.

    Supermarket checkout chick, Judy (Nicole Kidman) and her two BMX biker buddies PJ & Goose (Angelo D’Angelo and James Lugton) become involved in a madcap crime caper after they discover a carton of stolen walkie-talkies that were going to be used for a bank robbery. In no time at all the three BMX Bandits (all in matching outfits) are on the run from a bunch of bumbling crooks who will stop at nothing to get their “talkies” back. Long before mobile phone were commonplace, our 3 BMX heroes use their walkie-talkies to outmaneuver and out muscle the hoods.

    “BMX Bandits” makes excellent use of Sydney’s scenic locations. The trio wreaks havoc at Warringah Mall as they ride down escalators and crash through shopping stands and terrorise local shoppers as they desperately try to escape from the crooks. Also, look out for the spectacular Manly waterslide sequence in which the three teens and their BMX bikes make their way down the waterslides with the creepy goons in hot pursuit. By the end of the film, every Australian teen that owns a BMX bike gets involved in the rousing “cavalry to the rescue” finale that comes complete with a massive flour bomb fight and a Keystone cops car pile up that causes an explosion of frothy foam. The end credit sequence even features the trio at the Grand Opening of the Manly BMX track, all-competing for trophies in the BMX championship races.

    Director, Brian Trenchard-Smith of “The Man From Hong Kong” fame is on a winner with “BMX Bandits”. He has successfully created an action-packed teen flick with a wacky plot that is brimming with bike stunts galore, crazy villains, stupid cops, outrageous situations and not to mention a very cute Nicole Kidman at her youthful best. “BMX Bandits” is an absolute delight, a highly recommended teen adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone and a definite must-see for any Nicole Kidman fan. For a great Saturday night at home watch “BMX Bandits” on a double-bill with “The Goonies”, you won’t be disappointed.

  3. January 25, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Batch, you know WAAAAAY more about BMX movies than anyone I’ve ever met. And that’s cool. In fact, the chance to see a Nicole Kidman film that pre-dates “Dead Calm” (which deserves its own blog entry) is making me giddy.

  4. January 26, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Alright, I’ve got three magical words for you…”Gleaming the Cube.” I don’t know what the hell it means, but it’s an epic Christian Slater vehicle circa 1989. He’s a skateboarder out for justice against the gun-running Vietnamese mafia (WTF?) who killed his brother. It’s not technically a race, but when you have to outrun gun-toting Vietnamese on your skateboard, I think you’ve earned yourself a pass. Plus, probably Christian at his dreamiest since “Pump of the Volume.”

    Do I get extra points for working in a “Pump of the Volume” reference? I think I should.

  5. January 26, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Make that “Pump UP the Volume.”

    Need more sleep.

  1. January 29, 2007 at 11:06 pm

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