A low-budget hybrid aimed at two seemingly disparate niche markets — fans of extreme-sports docus and devotees of uplifting Christian-oriented pics — “Extreme Days” is family-friendly entertainment for families who aren’t outraged by jokes about flatulence, or bored by repetitive shots of surfing, snowboarding and BMX biking. Aggressively exuberant trifle, which opened Sept. 28 in limited release without press previews, probably won’t lure many mainstream ticket buyers. But distrib could score modest profit by gearing promotional campaign toward sporting-goods stores, Christian-skewing TV and radio outlets and church-affiliated youth groups.
Director and co-scripter Eric Hannah hits the ground running with a rapid-fire prologue introducing male leads, four longtime buddies in their early 20s: Corey (Dante Basco), Matt (Derek Hamilton) and brothers Brian (Ryan Browning) and Will (A.J. Buckley).
All having just taken four years to finish junior college, they intend to fulfill their dream of a cross-country extreme sports tour in Mexico before getting serious about adulthood.
But when Corey receives word that his beloved grandfather has died up in Yakima, Wash., the buddies drive north, eager to pay their last respects and to verify reports of a hefty inheritance for Corey.
During the road trip, they’re joined by Jessie (Cassidy Rae), Matt’s beautiful, Seattle-bound cousin. Brian is immediately attracted to the lovely coed, but she repeatedly rejects his romantic overtures. Even after Jessie finally recognizes Brian as worthy of her affections, she warns him that, hey, she’s not that kind of girl. (“I’m waiting until my wedding night!”) In this kind of pic, however, chastity is a virtue to be celebrated, not an obstacle to be overcome. Happy ending has virtue triumphant.
Overall, “ExtremeDays” is as chaste as an issue of Archie Comics. Granted, Brian and his buddies cause some minor damage while horsing around in a grocery store and briefly entertain themselves by lighting their own farts.
Even so, the four friends and their female traveling companion are thoroughly wholesome types who casually drop references to God and morality into their conversations without sounding preachy or dogmatic.
Periodically, Hannah cuts away to stock footage of surfing, snowboarding and assorted other extreme sports. The mix is less than seamless, and not just because pic employs a variety of film and video stocks. It’s all too obvious that the five leads are not actually involved in most (if any) of the action, even though they’re directed to appear breathless and/or exhausted when pic cuts back to them.
Actors are modestly appealing and convincingly convey a sense of camaraderie. Production values reflect budgetary limitations to a distracting degree. Soundtrack of Christian-rock singles is too loud by half.
On the other hand, it’s quite likely that “ExtremeDays” will be gratefully embraced by born-again teens in search of a lively but inoffensive date movie. After all, gays, blacks and Arab-Americans aren’t the only groups that too often feel marginalized by most mass-market pics.