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A scene from Machotail. (Leanne Pedersen)
A scene from Machotail. (Leanne Pedersen)

Movie review

Machotaildrop: Skate-boarding on the rail to surrealism Add to ...

  • Country USA
  • Language English

Machotaildrop

  • Written and directed by Corey Adams and Alex Craig
  • Starring Anthony Amedori and James Faulkner
  • Classification: NA

Quirky characters and dilemmas are such a cliché of indie films that it's a pleasant shock to find a film that shows such a genuinely outsider sensibility as Machotaildrop. This skate-boarder fantasy, which showed at the Toronto International Film Festival's Canada First! series last fall, combines enough jaw-dropping moves to satisfy the skate crowd, while serving as a gateway to a woolly plot that evokes everything from Logan's Run to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Always daring, Machotaildrop rides that rail between crude amateurishness and giddy creativity.

Canadian Corey Adams and Scotsman Alex Craig acquired their million-dollar budget by winning a short film contest hosted by the American action-sports network Fuel TV (you can see their movie, Harvey Spannos, on YouTube). Though Machotaildrop has a message about the excesses of corporate branding, the film is most intriguing as an unexpected reawakening of seventies' style midnight-movie surrealism.

Young Walter Rhum (Anthony Amedori, whose blank innocence suggests Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous) lives in a small town where he hangs around the local Cake and Skateboard store and dreams of a career as a professional skate-boarder.

After working hard with a filmmaker friend shooting his best stunts, he submits a VHS tape - spray-painted in gold for good measure -to Machotaildrop, a monopolistic skate-boarding company that rules the skate board world. Sure enough, he is summoned to the Machotaildrop underground headquarters, where the foppish Baron (James Faulkner) introduces him to his new life among the stable of celebrity skate-boarders, who are decked out like a 1930s-style Oxford rowing crew.

Despite the uncomfortable presence of the mumbling, stuffed-bird obsessed spy named Perkins and an unctuous doctor who gives him a physical and a daily dose of "stimulants," Wally believes his dreams have come true.

He is given his own lavish suite and served an entire roasted goose as a welcome present. Soon, he has his face on the cover of MT Life magazine and learns to speak in professional sports clichés to reporters. In no time, his signature skate-board quickly eclipses the sales of his idol, Blair Stanley (Rick McCrank), who is reduced to a psychological wreck.

Wally discovers that Machotaildrop has an overdeveloped dark side. In the basement archives of the company, he meets an attractive young archivist, Sophie (Vanessa Guide), and begins to learn the secret of what happens to old skate-boarders when their knees are ruined. Later, while shooting a TV spot, he discovers a colony of half-savage skate-boarders called Man Wolfs who attack him and his film crew. The Baron finds this inspiring television and decides to appropriate the Man Wolfs' land for his new theme park, Ape Snake, complete with "simulated vandalism."

Machotaildrop (the name apparently refers to a skateboard move) is full of visual surprises - from stuffed horses to rooms bursting with red balloons. There's mock archival black-and-white footage, too, and settings that range from the mountainous horizons of British Columbia to lavish Hungarian estates. The visual pops keep coming, even when the campy acting and predictable story of a mad genius's downfall grow increasingly shrill.

Ultimately, Machotaildrop may be too outlandish to hold interest for a feature-length running time, but, God or Tony Hawk knows, the filmmakers never stop trying to keep their wheels in the air.

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