I’ve noticed this kind of thing, this sort of post-Jackass sports video, on the wall at the video store, but I never looked close enough to see what’s really going on here – until Film Threat asked me to… “Destroying America” arrives, like many of its ilk, in a box which promises stunts, action, humor, punk rock, cute chicks, and celebrity cameos, offering a sort of smorgasbord of low entertainment; this cover art, punctuated heavily by pictures of guys on skateboards, wouldn’t normally hold my attention long enough to check out the contents. So I surprise myself when I admit that “Destroying America” does indeed deliver the “goods” it promises – and I also have to ask myself: is shit like this always this much fun?
The amorphous form shifts with each chapter break: first, a fictional vignette showcases the thespian and martial arts talents of a gorgeous Asian starlet named Ming Tran. Then her co-star and his collaborator (Jeremy and Heath, who also wrote and directed this) feature themselves in a semi-fictional music video type of segment, in which they skateboard flaming into the ocean and get “rescued” at some length by two breasty starlets in nurse costume. Next, a montage of footage shot on the “Hook-Ups” skate stunt tours, conducted and collected by the stars over a period of several years. Then we see the kids in their tour van wander around burning shit and fucking it up, for which they get harassed by trooper Erik Estrada (whose recurrent self-deprecatory improvisation as a cop is worth the price of admission alone). The pretense of fiction disappears again, as Heath, Jeremy, and the van go to the park, where the former use the latter to knock down a series of tall, helpless trees… and, um, it goes on like that, without slowing down or letting up. (Tony Hawk, one of the executive producers, appears in one segment, skating, and working at Pizza Hut.) The total effect is like some kind of demented punk rock skate video variety show.
“Destroying America” displays solid technique: the videography, particularly on stunts and pyrotechnics, is dynamic when necessary, often coolly restrained, but always accurate; this unselfconsciously fine work is supported by tense tight editing. The leads, who bumble into and out of fiction in their narrative but rarely bumble in any other sense, are likeable, and the skateboarding stuff, which is of no intrinsic interest to me, is totally engaging; the celebrity cameos and obligatory cute chicks are properly deployed. Their fuck off attitude and humor are real world punk in a manner that kept me smiling. Even the music is almost always good (songs include the works of Rob Zombie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, N.W.A., Danzig, and Rick James).
Will you like “Destroying America” if this is the kind of thing you like to watch? Well, um… how the fuck should I know? Did I enjoy it, myself, on its own terms, as an isolated shot in the dark? Reluctantly, I must admit I did.
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