Movie Reviews

The Motivation: Film Review

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The MotivationEach year, the Street Skateboarding League begins with 24 of the best street skateboarders in the world. They compete for points and eventually are whittled down to 8 competitors that vie for the Street Skateboarding League Championship held in NYC. To the victor goes the title of best skateboarder in the world, endorsements, and a prize of $200,000. The Motivation is a new documentary that follows the final 8 competitors and the founder of the league, Rob Dyrdek, in the weeks leading up to the 2012 championship. As the championship grows closer, the documentary digs deeper into the personal lives of the skateboarders and their families. It is in relating these personal stories that the documentary is most interesting.

Each skateboarder is highly impacted by his family. For instance, one skateboarder, Luan Oliveira, was raised by his grandparents in a poverty stricken area of Brazil. Another, Nyjah Huston, was raised by a father that felt the need to control every aspect of Nyjah’s life; he kept Nyjah away from friends and activities and overly pushed him at an early age, ultimately causing their relationship to deteriorate to the point that it became non-existent. Those skateboarders’ lives were in contrast to Ryan Sheckler, whose father was a strong and constant supporter from the first moment Sheckler showed an interest in the sport.

Other competitors are already fathers themselves. Bastien Salabanzi, a Frenchman and father of one, feels inspired and rejuvenated by his family – he compares it to receiving an extra heart and lungs. Paul Rodriguez, recently separated from his child’s mother, is away from his child for the first time in 7 years and searches for a new home for the two of them. Chris Cole juggles life as a skateboarder and a dad and struggles to find time to practice his tricks in the midst of fatherly duties.

Many fathers will identify with Cole. He’s a man stuck between two competing places in his life. He’s older than a lot of the other competitors and is beginning to feel the wear and tear that skateboarding has had on his body. Getting up at 6 in the morning to take care of his kids leaves little time and energy for skateboarding and he can go a week without practicing, which is something you can’t do in competitive skateboarding. As I watched the championship unfold, I sat on the edge of my seat pulling for him.

After I watched the documentary, I felt like I had watched a parenting video, with some skateboarding thrown in. I was reminded of the importance of finding that fine balance between pushing a kid too hard and not hard enough. And I remembered how difficult it can be to find time to do the things we love to do when we are doing so much for those we love.

The documentary is an interesting look into a world that I know nothing about (my interest in skateboarding lasted about a year when I was kid). I’ve watched skateboarding competitions in the past with my kids, but in watching the film, I gained a new appreciation for the skateboarding business and those that compete. There’s a handful of swearing in the film and at one point a competitor reveals bruises on his butt, exposing his entire rear, but I think most kids would be fine watching the film. In fact, I would encourage parents to watch the film with their children. It could spark some interesting conversations about kids and competitive sports, and there are some cool tricks too.

You can download The Motivation on iTunes here.

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