Snowboard Academy (1997) — Ernest goes to ski school

“They couldn’t catch my grandma, and she farts dust.”

Justin’s rating: A double black diamond of humor

Justin’s review: It’s mildly amusing to me that skiing was seen as a really cool movie sport of the ’80s and very early ’90s, but when snowboards hit the scene, skiing was dethroned and cast into the Pit of Lameness. From where I’m sitting — comfortably, in a ski lodge, sipping hot cocoa — both involve people throwing themselves down mountains at unsafe speeds, so I’ll concede that both will produce cool corpses.

Snowboard Academy attempted to leverage this imagined (or is it?) rivalry between people who go down hills on two thingies versus those who go down on just one. And since one of those is in the title, you know right up front which side the filmmakers took. But what about tubing? Is there a Tubing Academy, with whatever Hollywood Corey is most desperate?

Anyway, prepare for the laziest of lazy writing and the weirdest of weird casting. There’s this ski resort, see, where snowboarders are forbidden to visit. They do anyway, which sent me down a thought spiral about how the snowboarders manage to get to the top of these hills without using the ski resort’s lift chairs. Helicopter drop? Mountain Dew sponsorships? Your guess is as good as mine. But in any case, the stuffed-sweater ski staff are miffed at this invasion and do everything they can to kick them off.

To be fair to the snobby skiers, the snowboarders are kind of jerks. They happily cause property damage, ruin what I imagine is expensive ski equipment, plow through people eating at picnic tables, and cause the soundtrack to inexplicably switch to surf rock. And to be fair to the snowboarders, the skiers are so incredibly pompous that their hot air actually melts the snow pack in many scenes.

Anyway, the ski resort finally allows snowboarders to participate, which raises the tension and prompts a showdown contest between the two groups. The annoying skiers are led by the resort manager’s adopted son, Paul (Paul Hopkins), while the annoying snowboarders are captained by the resort manager’s other adopted son, Chris (Corey Haim). I’m sure the filmmakers thought that we’d find Corey Haim’s bodacious radical gnarly attitude absolutely radical, but he ends up as an insufferable “hero” that you want to see slam into the side of a warming lodge at 75 mph.

All else you need to know about Snowboard Academy is that Jim Varney to play a safety officer-slash-stand-up comic in the same vain as his Ernest schtick, Brigitte Nielson has a big “objectify me” sign hanging over her head, and the filmmakers pad a skimpy runtime out with loads of random shots of people skiing and snowboarding.

Snowboard Academy likes to think that it’s funny, but it’s mostly only funny in how not funny it actually is. If that makes sense. It’s all terrible sound effects and dumb props, not to mention inexplicable moments like setting off dynamite to prevent avalanches on the world’s most gentle slopes, ski poles that shoot out grappling lines, and appearances of Corey Haim.

Still, I’ll grant that occasionally the humor is so bad that it loops around to work, and I was caught off-guard several times chuckling and then deeply hating myself afterward. I got the feeling that it wanted to be a winter sports version of Police Academy, but the downgrade from a PG-13 to PG reportedly denuded it of some of its more edgy humor. Maybe they should’ve hired a guy to make wacky sound effects with his mouth?

So with sometimes-humor, surreal moments, and Varney slapsticking it up, Snowboard Academy is not quite as horrible as I was anticipating. Of course, I dine on piles of bad movies as a matter of routine, so perhaps my taste buds died a long time ago.

Didja notice?

  • Breaking all of the rules in the opening credits
  • Do ski resorts really tell people “no skiing?”
  • Snot jokes in the first four minutes
  • “Head cheese?”
  • Did… did he just shoot a grappling line from a ski pole?
  • Oh yeah, that’s just some dynamite to make avalanches. Don’t worry about that.
  • I need a “Leave Me Alone” t-shirt
  • Somebody is… stealing the snow?
  • The guy popping into the doorway to take a polaroid was kind of funny. Kind of.
  • “If I have to hear the word ‘check’ one more time…!” “Checkmate.”
  • The bartender is his own brand of weird
  • Rudy on fire in the background
  • Snowboarders sit backwards on chairs
  • Wait, why would you check out someone’s rear in super-padded snowpants?
  • There’s racing, and racing “extreme.” Don’t ask.
  • She runs the pro shops AND day care?
  • Yodeling mildly can knock people down all over the place
  • The subtitles for the one snowboarder who always speaks in slang
  • “Something tells me this is a bad sign.” GROAN
  • “We are here to be men! MEN.”
  • The bartender constantly stealing from the “save the whales” jar
  • The worst ski mask ever
  • “Where were you during Bastille Day?”

One comment

  1. Can’t believe someone else remembers the Ernest movies! Childhood staple if you grew up in the 90’s. Jim Varney is a legend, even if his movies were a bit…immature.

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