I know it was part of the Fantasia 2018 lineup, but Skate Kitchen feels like it belongs back in the 80s. It’s summer, you’re young and you just want to hangout with your friends and skate through New York City. This is one of the movies you don’t want to hurry up, you just want to enjoy skating and hanging with your friends. When the movie does that, it’s golden. It’s a given that if you don’t like skating perhaps you should skip it. However, if you don’t have any preconceptions about it, you might want come hang out.
Director Crystal Moselle is not using the theme of skating to tell a story. It’s not a background, and it’s not incidental and it doesn’t become anything else later. Skate Kitchen a story about Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) and her love of skating, which really becomes threatened when she injuries herself on a bad fall and ends up needing stitches. Freaked out, her mom forces her to promise she won’t skate anymore. This is the first motivation that makes Camille go completely out of her way from the suburbs of Long Island to the busy streets of New York City seeking out and befriending a group of all-female skateboarders.
This is where the movie really goes deep into the culture of hanging out, skating until sundown, smoking a joint and partying with your friends in abandoned warehouses. For the shy and introverted Camille, her new friends are just what the doctor ordered. When conflict comes again, it comes again via her mom as she finds out what Camille has been up to. The movie doesn’t present this conflict as a mother worried about her daughter but rather as a threat to the sweet way of life of skating the summer away. Mom’s the villain here, which I found more than a little unfair.
It’s obvious we’re watching this story through a skateboard-fan-tinted lens. Anything that will get in the way of the skateboard is the enemy. The worst comes when Camille starts hanging out with a skater boy named Devon (Jaden Smith) who has been banned by the all-girl posse due to a previous relationships with one of them. This is the part in which the film makes a pivotal turn away from the girl squad and towards Camille’s crush with Devon and hanging around with his crew instead. We, as the audience, keep hoping we go back to the girls, and it feels we’re part of the betrayal.
Recommended as a chill summer movie to watch about the skater subculture with an emphasis on female friendship. It’s nice and it’s cute and it feels like a summer memory about hanging with that cool group of friends. It’s not anymore than a hanging out movie and after we’re introduced to the skater girls we really want to stay with them, so the movie loses strength when it shifts its focus away in the third act.
That will do for now.