Shred America Image

Shred America

By Alan Ng | May 25, 2020

They also didn’t realize that James Lagen, who was riding the bike and hauling all their stuff, would not travel as fast as the skateboards, plus he was not in cycling shape, to begin with. Then there’s the realization that they needed water and lots of it, which often meant asking strangers for help.

Now it would be one obstacle after another. First, there was the unbearable heat and humidity of Indiana. Then their continuous run-ins with the law because bikes and skateboards are not allowed on state highways. Truckers were constantly narc-ing on them. Finally, let’s add those pesky Appalachian mountains that go up, down, and then up again.

My biggest issue with Shred America is there’s not enough shredding. The documentary focuses on the trip itself, and I would have loved to see more skateboards since that’s what the title is selling us. Yes, I’m being super petty.

“The editing is perfect and keeps the pace of their story moving.”

The film’s biggest hurdle is the obvious question, why do I care about a group of crazy kids? I’ll tell you. It is the boys’ spirit to take on an impossible challenge and fight their way to the finish that makes their story compelling. The best lesson learned was how to adapt to difficulty and overcome every trial placed in their way. These are the stories that anyone can tell, and you don’t need to be a superhero to do so.

Where the film also triumphs is its editing. Footage from the trip along with beautiful wide shots and vistas were blended seamlessly with talking-head interviews from the four. The editing is perfect and keeps the pace of their story moving. The filmmakers highlight the best parts of the trip, and after some time, these “dudes” got to reflect and process both the significance of the adventure and their friendship.

The first challenge was the trip. The second challenge was to piece that trip into a film. It’s not easy for just anyone with a “we should film this” idea to weave together a story that most people would just easily dismiss, and Shred America restores a little faith in our youth and young filmmakers.

Shred America (2020)

Directed and Written: Arthur Swidzinski

Starring: Anthony Michal, James Lagen, Arthur Swidzinski, Michael Kosciesza, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Shred America Image

"…their plan was to have no plan."

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