(The following review was contributed by R.T Ewell. R.T is a writer, his work can be found here)
When I first started talking to Chris about writing for The Cinephiliacs we tossed around a few Ideas. Ultimately, I just joined the team as a reviewer instead of doing something a bit different which is what I originally envisioned. One of the first things I discussed was doing an article about the movie RAD. So this is going to be an article/review of what is one of my all-time favorite films.
Most people might roll their eyes or shrug their shoulders at me saying that an 80’s movie which focused on BMX racing is my favorite movie of all time so let me explain. I mean, there is Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, even Goonies and Back To The Future, but I pick RAD as my favorite. You see, boys and girls, back in the olden days of the 1980’s we played outside. We didn’t hole up in our houses playing video games, and scouring the internet just wasn’t an option. So me and my friends would come home from school and grab our bikes to go jump dirt hills and attempt to do tricks that were never quite successful but we felt awesome doing them. In 1986, (which would have made me eight years old) we added something else before we grabbed our bikes after school. Somehow we discovered a movie called RAD which I’m not exactly sure how. It wasn’t a very widely known movie, even failing at the box office, but it ultimately found success on something called VHS. So each day when we came home from school we would watch the movie and then try to reenact the moves… poorly.
The movie has reached cult status, especially these days. Bill Allen who portrayed the lead, Cru Jones, has appeared on Tosh.0 even writing a book about his RAD experience called My RAD Career. There are many reasons that this movie reached cult status, especially in the recent years. Plus, the movie not being available on DVD also adds to the mystiqu. You can find it if you look hard enough but VHS is the only way it has ever had an official release.
I believe one of the factors is the soundtrack. If you love 80’s music and haven’t heard or seen RAD then you are missing out, my friend. Simply the best soundtrack around with songs from Real Life, Sparks, and most of the music by John Farnham. Probably, the most memorable scene comes from the “bicycle boogie” scene where Cru Jones (Bill Allen) and love interest Christian (Lori Laughlin, yes, Aunt Becky from Full House) dance with bicycles to Real Life’s “Send Me An Angel”. Trust me when I say that it is fantastic! Last year the soundtrack was released on iTunes and I highly recommend buying it, like right now!
There are three other songs that really standout for me in this movie. The first one is “Thunder in Your Heart” by John Farnham which is played during the qualifying rounds. It really adds intensity to the scene while providing excellent music for this montage-style segment.
The second is “Music That You Can Dance To” by Sparks. It is the song that comes right before the “bicycle boogie” scene and is equally great. Why? You ask. Well it’s simple. It is playing while the bad guys of the movie, Bart Taylor and cohorts Rod and Rex, are dancing and they couldn’t be dancing more obnoxiously and it’s terrific. On a side night I always thought that Rod and Rex who are played terrifically by Carey and Chad Hayes would make an excellent Tomax and Xamot in a live action G.I. Joe movie. Unfortunately, that movie came much later, but at the time they would have been awesome.
The third song actually starts out the movie and provides us an amazing montage of BMX stunts. “Break The Ice” is the perfect song choice for the opener, really setting the pace musically for this movie.
The story is your typical 80’s tale that involved any sport. There is an underdog, a bad guy, and an ultimate goal. In this story the underdog was Cru Jones. The bad guy was Bart Taylor. And the ultimate goal was HellTrack. That’s right, a BMX obstacle race called HellTrack comes to town and the local boy qualifies for the big race.
HellTrack itself is simply awesome. When I was a kid. My only goal in life was to race on that track. It started off with a huge drop, had a cereal bowl contestants had to go through and had this gnarly upwards jump that had a gap in it called the “cliffhanger.” Tough to explain but even now I would ride the hell out of that track. Pun sort-of intended.
I guess if you watch this movie now for the first time, it may not hold up. And I partially believe that my love for this movie comes from the fact that I have such good memories from when I was a kid. I still watch the movie to this day, probably five times a year. When I’m down, it sometimes cheers me up, at least for a little while, to remember how simple times were when all I worried about was my bike.
I’m sure that we all have our own movie that reminds us of our childhood. And I’m pretty sure it might be a movie that you would call your favorite movie of all time. I’ve seen RAD probably a couple of hundred times or more, no joke. But you’ve probably seen the movie you’re thinking about that many times as well.
If you’ve never seen RAD, I highly recommend it. Just go in with the attitude that it’s an 80’s movie with all the stereotypical 80’s clichés. Who knows… it might be your new favorite movie too, even if it’s because of all of its cheesy cult classic glory!