There's a coming-of-age story in here---the old roller disco is closing down, etc.---but you won't be able to see it through a thickly Vaselined gleam of 1983-ness. We're in East Texas; it might as well be Mars or Debbie Harry's basement. Teens glide around polished floors to "Love Plus One" (all the music selections blare an obnoxious self-regard) while vinyl albums are fondled in Morrissey-laden bedrooms and televisions spout the entire MTV moon-landing promo. Lanky hair is arranged in the rearview mirrors of spotlessly clean cars (wouldn't oil country be a little tougher on things?); we must be in someone's dream. It's all a bit oppressive: so much nostalgia for so much plastic crap.
The trap that Skateland---a Sundance-approved indie---falls into (unlike, say, a heartbreaker like Boogie Nights) is cowriter-director Anthony Burns's inability to turn his keen period detail into a paradise lost. Playing our budding journalist-hero, Ritchie, scruffy Shiloh Fernandez barely seems awake, making the efforts of quaking love interest Ashley Greene come off as nearly herculean. College might be in Ritchie's future, or maybe it's a knuckle sandwich from a gang of toughs, or the pain of a divorcing family. Ah, why sustain the mystery? It's all three, but dedicating a movie to John Hughes doesn't equal capturing the master's ear for the universality of adolescent angst.
Watch the trailer