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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Skate Kitchen, or: Ollie-oop

I’m not sure too many people are feeling optimistic about 2022–and it’s only day 2. After a wild couple of years, the next one is still looking somewhat unpredictable. Rest assured, the Blog Collab is ticking along like clockwork in our volatile world, and we’ll even go so far as to celebrate the seasonally appropriate theme of new beginnings & adventures in January. Largely for other people.

The Film:

Skate Kitchen

Director:

Crystal Moselle

The Premise:

Recovering from an injury, young skateboarder Camille finds kindred spirits in an all-female skateboarding collective in NYC.

The Ramble:

Teenage Camille is a skateboarder who experiences a major setback when she is badly injured while boarding. All of Camille’s fears about never being able to skateboard again are realized when her mother insists that she never pick up a board again. Which Camille obeys for approximately the amount of time it takes for her stitches to heal.

Camille, a young woman with long dark hair holding a skateboard, walks by a group of boys sitting on the side of a skate park with their own boards. They are watching the skateboarders currently in the park skating & performing tricks.

Following a group of girls known as Skate Kitchen on Instagram, Camille decides to sneak away to meet them at a skate park in the City from her home in Long Island. Getting back on the board after her injury suddenly feels less scary with a team of girls cheering her on amid all of the testosterone of the skateboarder bro crowd. Bonding with kindred spirit Janay and gaining the approval of brash leader Kurt, it’s not long before Camille becomes part of the group.

As Camille learns new skateboarding tricks and techniques, she also learns some things about growing up from her new girl gang. Because of her joint-smoking, makeup-wearing, sexually adventurous group of friends, Camille realizes how useful (and non-deadly) tampons can be, and to beware of the douchebags of the skate park, like Janay’s rather cute ex, Devon.

The members of Skate Kitchen, a group of young women in their teens, walk together down the street, holding skateboards and with arms around each other.

Spending more and more time at the library, as Camille tells her concerned mother, it’s not too surprising when her cover is blown. Having a huge falling out at home, Camille moves in with Janay temporarily…and then not-so-temporarily. Getting a job as a cashier in the same store where Devon works, Camille is soon hanging out with him and his skateboarding crew, crushing quite a bit. Since the girls despise Devon for breaking Janay’s heart, Camille wisely tells no one. But what will happen when these worlds collide and Camille’s secret is revealed?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Because the majority of the cast is made up of real-life skateboarders (many of whom are part of the real Skate Kitchen), our film feels authentic in its documentary-style approach. The skate tricks are real, the attitudes and passion come across onscreen, and the cool camera shots go on for days. Apparently the original cut was 5 hours long, which I can understand as appreciating the art of skateboarding rarely gets old.

What’s a bit frustrating is that director Crystal Moselle’s actual documentary The Wolfpack was so much more effective, and I can’t help thinking that approach here may have made for a better film. The structure is loose enough and the characters seemingly close enough to the actors’ backgrounds that a genuine documentary wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch. A lot of the semblance of plot is where the film is weakest, honestly, like the really unconvincing Camille/Devon romance.

However, the members of Skate Kitchen are cool enough that it’s fun just to hang out with them for an afternoon & entertain the possibility that I could stay upright on a board for more than 3 seconds (I totally couldn’t).

Would my blog wife allow this one into the skate gang or let it wipe out all alone on a concrete sidewalk? Find out in her review!

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