Maple Pictures' June '07 Releases
Dish Dogz (June 28/07)
Though Dish Dogz has clearly been designed to appeal primarily to fans of the skateboarding scene, the film - while not quite entertaining enough to warrant an actual recommendation - does possess an easy-going, light-hearted vibe that generally ensures that the whole thing remains kind of watchable (the personable performances and reasonably compelling storyline certainly play a significant role in the movie's extremely mild success). Marshall Allman stars as Kevin, a skateboarding teen who discovers a community full of like-minded individuals after taking on a job at an extreme sports camp. Director Mikey Hilb - working from Steven Sessions' screenplay - generally does a nice job of infusing Dish Dogz with a straight-forward sensibility, though some of his choices are admittedly nothing short of disastrous (ie overuse of slow-motion during skateboarding scenes, sultry saxophone music as a sexy nurse demonstrates the proper way to apply sunscreen, etc). Likewise, the filmmaker occasionally tries just a little too hard to hold the interest of younger viewers by including several overtly juvenile bits of comedy - with a drawn-out food fight and a seemingly neverending series of pranks the most obvious examples of this. Still, Allman effectively transforms Kevin into a likeable, sympathetic protagonist, while Luke Perry and Haylie Duff provide able support as, respectively, Kevin's boss and would-be love interest - with the end result a film that certainly could've been worse, though one's enjoyment is undoubtedly directly related to one's appreciation for extreme sports.
Pride (June 30/07)
Pride casts Terrence Howard as Jim Ellis, a tenacious coach who single-handedly whips a group of inner-city teenagers into a first class swimming team - much to the chagrin of various white competitors and spectators. The film, directed by Sunu Gonera, certainly has its heart in the right place and there are a few admittedly compelling sequences (most of which involve star Howard), but it becomes increasingly difficult to overlook the egregiously predictable nature of the storyline - particularly for those with even a passing familiarity with such similarly-themed sports movies as Remember the Titans, Miracle, and Glory Road. The lack of subtlety within the screenplay only compounds the film's various problems, as the four credited screenwriters place the characters into a series of eye-rollingly ham-fisted situations (ie Ellis and company arrive at a swim meet, where they're quickly tsk-tsked by dozens of white folks). There's ultimately little doubt that Pride would've fared a whole lot better had it been released just a few years ago, and while Howard delivers as compelling and electrifying a performance as one might've expected, the film is simply undone by its reliance on exceedingly conventional elements.