Brink! (1998) — Beach bum teens battle for rollerblade supremacy

“What’s in the bag?” “Nunya.” “Nunya?” “Nunya business.”

Skip’s rating: I really loved this one in the ‘90s/early ‘00s, so much so that I bought rollerblades last year (at 32 years of age), busted my shoulder, and couldn’t work for a week. The film, and my dream of X-Games glory, did not age well. 7/10, but a point or two is solely riding on nostalgia.

Skip’s review: Brink! truly is a product of the ‘90s. You see, for ‘80s kids, it was all about skateboarding. But rollerblading came and went in the cultural zeitgeist of the ‘90s, and by the end of the aughts, it was almost completely dead (having been discontinued at the X-Games in 2005, which certainly accelerated its decline).

This film is a time capsule from a very specific moment in time. Ska music, baggy clothes, and the idea that the absolute worst thing anyone can do is “sell out,” Brink! was Disney Channel’s attempt to discuss things that were very important to a post-’80s youth.

When Andy “Brink” Brinker (Erik von Detten) learns that his family is struggling financially, he has to make a choice: Keep skating for the fun of it with his “soul skater” friends (Christina Vidal and Patrick Levis), or join the elite corporate-backed Team X-Bladz. As X-Bladz is helmed by his rival Val (Sam Horrigan), Brink can think of nothing worse than “selling out” and skating for money. Well, nothing except seeing his family struggle.

After a member of Team X-Bladz (Walter Jones) is injured in a schoolyard race, Brink earns the open spot, beating out a skate park full of competitors for the role. Now, juggling a list of responsibilities which include a job at Pup N Suds, Brink is struggling to keep his new crew separate (and hidden) from his identity as a soul skater.

What follows are not only some typical Disney teenager hijinks but also a showcase of talented inline skating. It’s difficult to finish this film without an invigorated interest in extreme sports, and its addition to Disney+ upon the streaming service’s launch is (in my uninformed opinion) responsible for the current rise in popularity of inline skating.

Now that a handful of Disney Channel Originals are available to stream on Disney+, there has been a renewed conversation surrounding which of these films is the “best.” For my money, while Brink! is beginning to show its age, the production value that went into staging a mock X-Games takes this film to the top of the list.

Didja notice?

  • Just in case you missed it – the member of Team X-Bladz who gets hurt during the schoolyard race, thus setting the whole plot in motion IS A GOSH DANG POWER RANGER. It’s entirely possible that they share a universe, and the injury is his way of getting out of things so he can GO DO POWER RANGER THINGS, LIKE SHOUT “IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME” REALLY LOUD IN FRONT OF SOME NINJAS OR ALIENS OR SOMETHING.
  • I can’t say this enough – IT’S THE FREAKING BLACK POWER RANGER. That was basically the only member of this cast anyone knew in 1998, and with a Power Rangers reunion on the horizon, he’s the only one still relevant.
  • Brie Larson originally auditioned to play Brink’s little sister. Skate better? More like act better, amirite?
  • The film’s plot is very loosely based on the 19th century novel Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. I mean, there wasn’t even a single vert ramp in the Netherlands in 1865, and not even once does Hans Brinker say “gnarly,” “rad,” or “Val and his crew were dissin’ us. We started givin’ ’em beef right back, but they wanted to hit it right there at school. Clearly, we couldn’t step off, so we had to battle.”
  • On the soundtrack, listen to “Sooner or Later” by Fastball. This track appears on Fastball’s sophomore album All The Pain Money Can Buy, which also includes the 90s hit “The Way”. Personally, I think “Sooner or Later” should have charted, but what do I know?

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