Delivering on half its title, "Supercross: The Movie" is a full-throttle orgy of soaring bikes and revved-up engines. Completely disposable yet rousing, this noisy 20th Century Fox outing looks to sputter and stall in wide release, although homevid biz, particularly among motorsports enthusiasts, looks more promising.
Delivering on half its title, “Supercross: The Movie” is a full-throttle orgy of soaring bikes and revved-up engines, held together by a thin if capably acted story of sibling rivalry. Completely disposable yet rousing on its own crude, testosterone-saturated terms, this noisy 20th Century Fox outing looks to sputter and stall in wide release, although homevid biz, particularly among motorsports enthusiasts, looks more promising.K.C. and Trip Carlyle (Steve Howey and Mike Vogel) are diehard devotees of Supercross, an offshoot of motocross racing known for its stadium-confined tracks and super-steep jumps. (Pic was co-produced by Clear Channel Entertainment’s motor sports division.) Making a temporary living cleaning pools around their native Palmdale, the brothers see their fortunes change after a pivotal tournament in Apple Valley, when K.C., the more responsible (if less naturally gifted) racer of the two, wins a lucrative contract with Supercross factory Team Nami. What starts off looking like a sweet deal quickly turns sour as K.C. finds himself playing second fiddle to star rider Rowdy Sparks (Channing Tatum), a cretinous spotlight-hog with a nasty streak. As Rowdy’s wingman, K.C. is forced to fight off the competish but never allowed to win a race himself. Meanwhile, K.C.’s relationship with his brother grows more strained, as Trip, who’s both proud of his sib and disappointed at being passed over, licks his wounds in increasingly volatile ways. With some prodding from gruff racing vet Earl Cole (Robert Patrick, bringing a welcome touch of gravitas), Trip decides to go pro on his own, allowing the pic to offer some wry insights into the life of a privateer versus that of a corporate stooge. Though they’re playing fairly standard types, Howey and Vogel delineate the two brothers expertly, nailing their hotheaded, competitive yet still affectionate vibe. As the more interesting character of the duo, Vogel is especially good, playing Trip as a mixture of reckless goofball and brooding black sheep. The female characters tend to get lost in a film about a male-dominated culture. K.C. falls for a posh Palmdale girl named Zoe (“One Tree Hill’s” Sophia Bush), while Trip falls for sharp-tongued fellow racer Piper (a tart, charming Cameron Richardson). To their credit, screenwriters Ken Solarz and Bart Baker do attempt to involve and flesh out both femmes; at one point, Zoe blanches when someone suggests K.C. owns her. (Still, this is the kind of movie where, after Richardson snaps at someone, “Stop staring at my ass,” the camera helpfully supplies a closeup.) Physical and emotional tensions between K.C. and Trip, compounded by Rowdy and a fourth racer (real-life motocross athlete Tyler Evans), build to a genuinely tense pre-climactic race in which neither the outcome nor auds’ rooting interest is predictable. Near-fatal consequences ensue, after which the story quickly goes flat en route to its Las Vegas finale, resolving the central conflict in hasty, dramatically unsatisfying fashion. While the nature of Supercross doesn’t lend itself to fluid photography, the racing sequences, which incorporate actual footage from Clear Channel’s events, are energetically cut and easy enough to follow. Riders’ helmets no doubt made it easy to mask the stunt work.Unfortunately, director Steve Boyum is unable to get inside those helmets psychologically. A few blurry rider-POV shots are sprinkled throughout the finale to clumsy effect. Off the racetrack, the pic’s grainy interiors are almost uniformly, perhaps deliberately, underlit.