Your average teen-coming of age film is something that can be tough to pull off sometimes, and if you are confident enough in the material it can actually work. But when it doesn't, it can be a somewhat apathetic experience. And while the initial hook of Skating to New York might have been personally appealing to me, I am left wondering what exactly happened in all of this.
Monte Merrick (Mr. Baseball) adapted a novella into a screenplay that longtime cinematographer Charles Minsky (Pretty Woman) directed. Four teenaged friends are also teammates on a hockey team in Ontario. Rudy (Wesley Morgan, Kick-Ass 2) is the biggest of the bunch, and his little brother Art (Gage Munroe, Immortals), while too young to be on the team, certainly looks up to him. The others include the uniquely Canadian named Boney Labue (Dylan Everett), Jimmy (Matthew Knight, The Grudge 2) and Casey (Connor Jessup, Blackbird). On a cold and wintry day, the boys decide that they want to skate the 22 miles across Lake Ontario to New York. Over this trek that stretches a couple of days, the boys expand their life experience and learn things about one another. In fact, the synopsis on the film's website goes so far as to call it Friday Night Lights meets Stand By Me.
I'm going to discuss a point in the story that may be considered spoilerish by some, but if you wish to soldier on and take a look at it, feel free. Otherwise, skip to the next paragraph.
While the intent of Skating to New York is admirable, there is not a lot within the trip the boys have that which resonates with the viewer. Even more problematically are some of the scenes which bookend the film, and the ramifications they have through it. Early in the film, one of the boys takes a puck which hits off a goalpost, onto his unprotected head. He bleeds from the head, eventually gets stitches. The boy's love interest wonders if he should be helped off the ice because you, know, bleeding head wound. And everyone around him shrugs it off. One of the boys even says is essence that there's a lot of blood that goes to the head, so that's why it looked so bad, but wasn't, really. The injured boy gets stitches, and then...skates the 22 miles with his friends. Occasionally his head bleeds over the course of the trek but nah, not that big of a deal. Really? And a National Hockey Team team is a sponsor of this? Well, it is the Toronto Maple Leafs but close enough I guess.
There is little investment paid to the trip, which is the key component of the movie. The boys decide to do it for little more than seemingly for the sake of doing it. The moments of conflict that you would expect a story to have among the group are halfhearted. When they return back to Ontario, they have some sort of world-weariness that comes from completing a task that they could not imagine previously, but that had little significance over the first two acts, so there is not much justification for it in the third.
I appreciated the intent of what Skating to New York was trying to do, but it never puts the time in to make the viewer care about the characters, or their wonderment of playing in a small town and being a pseudo big-fish. It wants to be the movies it cites, but does not come that close to pulling this off at all. Something tells me that actual skating to New York would be better than Skating in New York.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The AVC encode for this 1.85:1 widescreen joint is fine. You are exposed to the Ontario winter just fine, with the sun reflecting off the snowflakes on the ground and the light so bright you have to squint almost. You also get the yellow bruising around the head wound I mentioned earlier! The image looks generally flat overall, though I would likely attribute this to the relatively low production value. All in all this is a solid looking flick.The Sound:
The DTS HD-MA 5.1 lossless track sounds decent, capturing blades cutting through the ice a lot, and doing so clearly and possessing even a hint of dynamic range to them. Dialogue is fine, and in moments of bigger action like the hockey games or a chase across the lake, there are hints of directional activity, but nothing consistent or overly present. It is not as environmental as I would have hoped, but I'll take what I can get here.Extras:
Just the trailer.Final Thoughts:
Skating to New York is a nice idea when it comes to young boys being friends and learning about one another as part of this trek, but it is pretty remarkable thoughout, to the point when I periodically wondered if this was just a boring episode of Wheels, Ontario. Technically, the film looked and sounded fine, but could have used a making-of featurette at the very least. A fun sort of after school special film that you will forget about almost immediately after watching it.