This entry in the great LACar journal in the cloud will be more of an “impression” than a full-out review … my own background (and foreground as well) making it somewhat difficult to view “DIRT” in any sort of a non-partisan light.
That said I’ll tell you what I think, what I think non-combatants will think, and then follow up with what the people at Warners say about the adventure. Here goes:
Virtually every theatrical racing movie that I’ve ever seen (or worked on: ONE*) has followed a similar story line. And that would be some sort of a blurry or problematic past, a chance at something like redemption, a non-fatal fail, some basic turmoil … personal conflict, a last shot at redemption, (the win) and the (almost) inevitable roar of the crowd and the (again almost) obligatory steep camera pull-back from the final victory celebration.
In truth, even the racing film that I have long considered the most “realistic” in terms of how it is out there, “Le Mans”, mirrors the above formula. Like doctors watching doctor movies, or lawyers watching lawyer movies there is always some concern that what really goes on is not always as plot-centric as they dreamed about in medical or law school, or as seen in the film.
OK, enough of the excuses … My true impression of this one is that it gives fair value for time spent and might well have good entertainment value for many who will (as stage play audiences are asked to do) suspend belief for sake of an upbeat yarn where one can see the end coming from a mile away … but that’s still fun to look at anyway. Starting with the movie poster art we are pretty much assured that everything’s going to work out, our seeing how that comes about is really the journey.
Based on that simple logic, and with the above conclusion in mind, I can recommend this film to pro and novice alike, the plot line and look of DIRT is more Hallmark Channel than something on El Rey or History, but the racing scenes are stunning, and if there’s any CGI in this one, I’ve been swigging too much Lucas Oil Tune Up.
The above is to say that this Lucas-backed film is also a paean to all of the racing brands and eyeball-beating ballyhoo that you’d see at a real one of their Off-Road Championship events, which I recommend.
(Strangely enough the one most jarring notes of un-authenticity is that, in the film, the pit area is restricted, it requires a wrist band to enter, which allows a light plot moment when the young protagonist had to scale a perimeter fence to get into the pits. The last time that I was at a Lucas Off-Road event the pits and the public area were one in the same, open to all and a real buzz to be wandering around in.)
… Formulaic, PG13, in focus, full-out bad and squeeky-clean good guys (and gals), a redemptive tale to tell, and a sweet/happy ending … are all pretty much negative attributes for a real “big” movie these days. Even at that, this one is a fun watch. -DS
*The art director for a TV movie that was titled: “The Big Prize” and has subsequently (and mercifully been lost to antiquity) was a friend and hired a number of local race cars (and drivers) to work the shoot. My Lotus 18 was one of the cars used as background in the racing pits scenes that were filmed in the Universal Tours south parking.
As everyone knows most films are not shot in any sort of story order and on about the second day of the shoot, Darren McGavin, the properly gristled old pro racing in his final season (you already know what’s going to happen, right?) is supposed to get into his open wheel race car and leave the pits for practice.
McGavin, as versatile an actor as there ever has been, walked over to the car (a Lotus 20 that had been ratcheted up a few notches with some fake exhaust pipes and sponsor logos) threw one leg into the car and tried to sit down. “CUT!”.
… It took two of us to unstick and heft him out the car. Needless to say, McGavin, as good an actor as he was, did not know the drill on sliding into a single-seater. My claim to fame, if any, is that I was sent (with the car and McGavin) behind the pit façade to teach him how to slip into the tight confines of a Lotus 20 without sticking his foot through the steering wheel. I did, and if anyone ever finds a copy of the film, they’ll now note that I did my work well, McGavin wiggling down into the cockpit with all the style and world-weary grace, that all old pros show… (Why my name was missing from the credit crawl at the end of the film is something for movie historians to ponder.)
Oh yeah, my friend, the art director, Joe Alves … he went on to work on a little-known movie, with a rookie director. You may even have heard of it … it was called “Jaws”.
And now … here’s how our friends over at Warners see it:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GET READY TO REV YOUR ENGINES AS
WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASES
ON DIGITAL MARCH 6 AND DVD MARCH 20, 2018
BURBANK, CA (January 9, 2018) – For former Off Road Truck driver Rick Radden and teenage carjacker Dez Truss, second chances do not come easy. However, another shot is just around the bend. Watch as worlds collide for this unsuspecting duo when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases DIRT, on Digital March 6 and on DVD March 20, 2018.
Caught boosting cars for an auto-theft ring, 17-year old Dez Truss is given one last chance to turn his life around. When he is introduced to former Off Road Truck-driver-turned team owner Rick Radden, neither suspects that this is the change both so desperately need. In exchange for a roof over his head, Dez is offered the chance to use the skills he developed in the streets as part of the pit crew for Rick’s team. Faced with an underperforming and apathetic driver, Rick finds himself in search of a lifeline for his struggling off road racing team. In an unexpected turn of events, he looks to Dez to take the lead and become the new face of Team Radden. But, does Dez have what it takes to end the team’s losing streak? Will his life of crime catch up with him as he looks to turn over a new leaf?
DIRT features Entourage alum Kevin Dillon as Rick Radden opposite breakout star DeRon Horton (Dear White People, Lethal Weapon) as Dez Truss. The cast also includes Christina Moore (Claws, Jessie, That 70’s Show) Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (The CHI, Treme, Heroes, Bosch) Devan Long (S.W.A.T., Training Day), Matthew Glave (Feud, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce) and Dominic Devore (Small Arms, The Release).
This adrenaline-fueled, coming of age story takes you into the world of Off Road Truck racing with appearances from professional off-road drivers Carl Renezeder, Rob MacCachran, Eric Barron, Myan Spaccarelli, Kyle LeDuc, Doug Fortin and showcasing promotional sponsorships from Tonka, Rockstar Energy Drink, GEICO, Rolls Royce, Lucas Oil, MAVTV, Kawasaki and BF Goodrich.
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is thrilled to take viewers into the world of Off Road Truck racing to share an action-packed journey with a message that transcends the sport.” Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing.
DIRT is a FORREST FILMS / ESX ENTERTAINMENT co-production. Forrest Lucas, executive producer, and Ali Afshar and Christina Moore, producers, present this Sports Drama directed by Alex Ranarivelo. DIRT is penned by John Ducey with Alex Ranarivelo.
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS
DIRT will be available to viewers for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on their favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, CinemaNow, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. Starting March 20, 2018, DIRT will also be available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.
Street Date: March 20, 2018
DVD SRP: $19.98
Got something to say? Place your Facebook comments and see Albert Wong’s photos from the DIRT premiere at the TCL Chinese theater here.
BACKGROUND NOTE: … Our editor has been a full-time motorsports professional since the late 70’s and actually has been on the scene at a motorsports event or two where movie-like racing redemption has actually taken place … but they were few.