Release: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 (limited)
Lead by example. . . . by throwing your half-naked body down a ramp at 70 m.p.h. only to be flung off into space. That’s the American way, right?
Despite the multiple times we get smacked with that red warning label: “DO NOT ATTEMPT AT HOME” that’s not even close to accurate when you’re talking about the kind of stunts that Travis Pastrana and crew go through. It would be slightly more effective if it said something like: “DO NOT WATCH.” Bad ideas are going to abound for the folks who have less common sense than a pile of rocks, but ultimately, we can’t worry too much about those types. This film is just for entertainment, certainly of the ADHD-variety. In that way, it’s damn good entertainment.
Then again, I’ve always been a sucker for the action-sports genre. I first saw this film a few weeks ago on T.V. so yes, I have seen it; and no, unfortunately I did not benefit from the added bonus of silly little plastic glasses for an extra $2 at the theater. I guess I missed out in the opening scene, in which a series of slow-mo shots glorify the rhythm and intricate choreography of dozens of bikes jumping simultaneously as monster trucks rumble below them. Still, I was blown away by the sheer number of death-defying moments throughout this film. Some of these crazy events involve Pastrana, the Nitro Circus ringleader himself; a lot of them were the fates of his other idiotic/brave friends. (Depending on your worldview, you’ll choose either ‘idiot’ or ‘hero’ to describe these folks. There’s pretty much no middle-ground here.) Regardless of your take on the quality of these characters, it’s not going to do you any good to sit there and also say that what they’re doing is pointless. You can hate all day by claiming Nitro Circus: The Movie adds up to nothing more than highly paid stunt professionals stroking their egos for an hour and a half. I look at this more as a Cirque de Soleil without the tights.
Meh. Maybe with more RedBull and less grace and style.
There is no denying the film’s monotonous plot. We move location to location throughout North and Central America, following along with the Circus as they set up larger and more difficult stunts on a road to their final destination — Las Vegas, where they plan to perform an unprecedented live show of all their talent. Because it’s simply a backstory to who these guys are, it comes off a little slapdash and doesn’t boast a very impressive, complex storyline. It’s inspirational, though. If you’re not visually moved (or perhaps disturbed) by what these guys do on scooters, tricycles, monster trucks and motorbikes, then you’ve missed the only point the movie tried to make.
From childhood, this is what these kids have done: found ways to push their physical and mental limits by doing stunts that not only are creative, but blur the lines between life and death. Granted, these are not the means through which a good majority of friendships are established, by taking that ‘Go big or go home’ mantra very seriously. But who’s to say this isn’t what these guys were destined to do? It might seem silly — as a gentleman (in his late 40s or early 50s) tries to one-up his slightly older brother by jumping a semi-truck at world record heights and speeds over a dirt jump — but hey man, this is life for some. Personally, I’m glad they caught this all on camera. At times hilarious, self-depracating, and even touching (for a very brief spell) Nitro Circus: The Movie is a pretty fun trip to go on.
And there’s also no denying Pastrana et al’s tip-of-the-hat at the culture surrounding the infamous Jackass show, although the boys in the Circus are never willing (at least publicly) to sink to the depths of depravity that some of Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O’s friends often volunteer to go to. In sum, there’s a lot of action, a girl going through a full-loop on a tricycle, and a kid born with spina bifida doing a 4o-foot frontflip in his wheelchair, with some tiny-tapping in between.
I guess my only real question is. . . .do we have enough popcorn. . . ?
Recommendation: If getting high on adrenaline in a relatively low-budget stunt film is priority one, those who can appreciate (or just have a lot of time on their hands) will lap it up. More than likely, though this will be wasted on those who avoid the X-Games genre on a regular basis. It also may very well have been better enjoyed in 3D, but I rented it on DVD so options were limited.
Running Time: 88 mins.
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