Wan, mundane coming-of-ager.
If teenagers were doing anything interesting in small-town East Texas in 1983, “Skateland” doesn’t know about it. This wan, mundane coming-of-ager focuses on kids enacting a pale imitation of ’50s car-centered, “American Graffiti”-style time-killing, with the impediment of exceptionally dull dialogue. An ensembler in which none of the young unknowns pops out from the crowd, this handsome-looking period piece is far too uneventful to spark much audience reaction in any market.
The most that can be said for what’s onscreen here is that tyro director Anthony Burns shows good visual instincts; he favors nicely conceived lateral tracking shots in widescreen, and an early long take that moves through a crowd of skaters at the eponymous local hangout is arresting. But dramatically, it’s all tired stuff about an indecisive future writer-type, an older skirt-chaser who returns after not making it as a bike racer, four toughs bent on wrecking everyone else’s good times and so on. The soon-to-expire skating emporium offers meager cultural resonance compared with the title establishment in another obvious source of inspiration, “The Last Picture Show.”