Unknown, underrated (frankly, IMDb can fall off a bridge for this rating), and full of heart are apt descriptions of both the characters in Grind and the film itself.
Grind centers on a group of unlikely friends, whose only similarities are their misfit statuses, impressive dancing abilities, and their remarkable talent for skating. Including Eric Rivers (Mike Vogel), Dustin Knight (Adam Brody), Matt Jensen (Vince Vieluf), and Sweet Lou (Joey Kern), the group—but mostly Eric—decides that the best way to spend the summer after their high school graduation is to dump what little savings they have into a cross country journey with one goal: Get sponsored for skating.
While apparently I’m weird for ranking this film as one of my all-time favorites, the quality of its soundtrack isn’t up for debate. Not only was it released in 2003 and, therefore, during one of the greatest eras of music in history, but it centers around a group of teenage skaters. And if the skating scene had one thing going for it, it was the music. Grind capitalizes on these strengths perfectly and delivers a fantastic and appropriate soundtrack. Below are my four favorites from the film.
Poison – Nothin’ But A Good Time
Up to this point in this point in the movie, the group has encountered failure after failure, quickly spending the modicum of money they have, and losing hope that they will ever capture the attention of the renowned skater Jimmy Wilson. Matt and Dustin begin releasing their frustrations in an argument about the music playing in the van. As their argument becomes more heated and physical, Sweet Lou calmly loads a Poison CD in the van’s player, and “Nothin’ But A Good Time” by Poison immediately plays.
The lyrics “Not a dime, I can’t pay my rent / I can barely make it through the week” burst through the speakers as the skeptical skaters start nodding their heads to the beat. By the time the first chorus hits, the group enthusiastically joins in, belting out, “Don’t need nothin’, but a good time / How can I resist?” As the guitar solo wails, the friends throw open the van door the show the world their air guitar expertise, much to the shock and disgruntlement of a passing elderly woman.
Not only does the song introduce us to this snazzy headbang, it perfectly sums up the group’s situation. Despite all their misfortunes, they are still spending an entire summer with their best friends in the world, traveling across the United States, and of course, skating. It reminds us as the audience that we “don’t need nothin’ but a good time”.
Billy Talent – Line and Sinker
Billy Talent was my favorite band for a few years, so not only is it awesome to hear one of their best songs in one of my favorite movies, the song itself adequately fits Grind’s atmosphere.
The underdog theme of Billy Talent’s lyrics is very suiting for the oddball group, e.g. “Today I don’t feel pretty / And I’m tired of trying to fit right in / Don’t think they’re just so great / ‘Cause being great must suck”. The barely controlled chaos of the song’s chorus creates the perfect overtone for their skating. Ben Kowalewicz’s frantic screaming followed by the band’s excited gang vocals are a wonderful compliment for the boards scorching over concrete and asphalt, and skimming down steel rails.
Unwritten Law – Seein’ Red
Fast forward to nearly the climax of the movie and our heroes have finally caught a break. Fortuitously, and thanks to Eric’s looks and boyish charm, the group made a connection with someone who could finally get them skating in an event. Nervously, the group walks to the ramps as the first verse of “Seein’ Red” plays. The haunting melody conveys every bit of nerves and anxiety each member feels as they walk towards their one shot at fame and sponsorship.
As the song launches into its powerful hook, smiles spread across characters’ faces because they’re finally walking towards their one shot at fame and sponsorship. Unwritten Law continues to play motivation as each skater leaves everything he has on the ramps, rails, and pavement. As the group finishes their run, the final chorus powers through, confirming members’ successes and of the individual happiness of the group and their loved ones.
P.O.D. – Boom
Yes, the song that every varsity athletics team in the nation has put on a warm-up CD at some point in the past thirteen years makes an appearance in this film. And it does it in the best way possible.
After their successful demo at the park, Eric is almost immediately challenged to a skate-off by the leader of a rival group. The two take their quarrel to the half-pipe as the P.O.D.’s chunky guitar riffs begin playing in the background. P.O.D. taunts both skaters do and risk more, even as they complete unbelievable tricks.
The song fades out as sweat drips down Eric’s face, and he contemplates his final run. Exhausted, nervous, and with all of his friends watching, Eric rides his board down the halfpipe as P.O.D. roars back to life just in time for Eric’s veritable “boom” of the match.
“Boom” by P.O.D. can be used in a myriad of contexts, but very few of them are as purely epic as a skate-off. So we can all thank Grind for giving us that, at least.
Does this article make you want to watch Grind? Go watch it and comment below about how terrible my taste in movies is. While you’re at it, shoot us some ideas for great soundtracks from some of your favorite movies and TV shows!