Now I know we haven’t done a movie review on here before, but this film I think deserves one… and probably not for the reason you think.
Recently, I had the chance to attend a premiere for a motorcycle movie in Beverly Hills inside the Samuel Goldwin Theater, which is in the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. I was absolutely chuffed to have the chance to see a documentary about motorcycling and the world and people that compose it. I am, after all, a true gearhead and motorcycle rider (as can be attested to by our videos on this very website).
Sitting down for the premiere, I had the giddy excitement of a child waiting to see the film unfold before me. And unfold it did. The cinematography of the film was great… at times. The story was a brilliant idea to run with and I was elated to watch every single frame. However, there were problems. And by problems, I mean to say that the film was one glorified slice of the motorcycle world.
Firstly, the filmmakers used the indie-film’s signature “foreground focus to background focus” effect way too often. Which unsurprisingly, made the film feel amateurish. There was even the requisite long montage of different shots, all of which had nothing to do with motorcycling, ie trees, birds, sky. Sure, I can see that they wanted to express the freedom of riding, but come on, we get it already.
Next, we cannot but to warn you that this film has such a melodramatic quality to it, that you kinda want to get up and leave after the first 30 minutes of film. It was as if the film makers just finished reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ and Robert M. Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence’ before filming commenced. Motorcycling is fun and liberating, yes, we understand, but don’t beat us over the head with it for 89 minutes. However, the film makers contented themselves with such dramatic (long winded) speeches from each of the people interviewed, that I often wondered if they employed an editor. Which moves me on to my next point- the people interviewed in the movie.
Being at the premiere I have to say that just about every person in the audience was in the movie. Sitting there, I felt out of place, as everyone knew each other and every face on the screen surrounded me in my seat. Talk about feeling like a party crasher. Now I have to forgive the film makers this, it was after all a premiere and of course those in the movie would be there. However, after seeing the movie, it felt as if the producers wanted to talk about motorcycles and the only people they interviewed were their close family and friends. Make a home video if you want to do that! Don’t try to pass it off as a feature film that is supposedly representative of all riders. Where are the interviews with the people who wrench in their garage, those who build a bike from a mismash of what they can afford or having lying around or those that build newfangled machines on 2 wheels? This of course, segues perfectly to my last and most important point of all.
‘Why We Ride’ has absolutely NOTHING at all to do with the word ‘We’. Hearing people discussing the film afterwards, mixed with my own personal feelings, I cannot in good conscious say that this supposed documentary was anything more than a entirely segregated disquisition of a select and well-heeled few. It was also completely lamentable that the film focused mainly on the motocross and Harley riders of the larger motorcycle world. Sure, there was the odd shot of the infamous “Snake of Mulholland” and the Rock Store, but what about the rest of the world? There were no cafe racers, no sport bikes (save top end Moto GP), no rat bikes, no choppers, no baggers, no daily drivers. Nope. It was dirt bikes and Harleys.
As for the people interviewed, let me say that it was sinfully discriminatory. Save for Alonzo Bodden, an African American comic (he won season 3 of Last Comic Standing), there was no diversity to speak of. And motorcycling, like America and the rest of the world, is composed of individuals from different cultures, experiences and financial situations. All of which have heard the siren song of the motorcycle and ride. It is an experience for all of us and we should be celebrating the fact that motorcycling can bridge the gap of language and distance. Sadly, the movie showed none of this.
What you will end up seeing is a film about middle to upper middle class Caucasians enjoying their expensive motorcycle hobby, taking their $40,000 truck, towing their $15,000 trailer with another $40,000 worth of dirt bikes and quads to Glamis. Laughably, near the end of the film a woman interviewed said that motorcycling can be a family sport that every family can enjoy. Sure, cause don’t we all have enough money to buy a motorcycle for every member of our family? And oddly enough, the only people missing from this film were Billy Joel and Jay Leno, who are both avid motorcycle riders/collectors. Then again, Billy is Jewish and Jay is half Italian, so maybe that doesn’t fly with the film makers. Too bad. Too, too bad.