RAD (1986)

24 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: GP (Guilty Pleasure)

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I rarely review a movie with a “GP” rating—in fact, this is actually the second movie for me to give that rating (the first one was “Troll”). True, “RAD” is bad (shut up about the rhyme) and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but there’s so much energy within its sports film clichés and stock characters that I very much enjoyed it. Whether you get the same enjoyment out of this movie as I did or you’re extremely annoyed by it, I’m sure we can all agree that at the very least, “RAD” is a lot better than the movies directed by former stuntman Hal Needham after the most entertaining “Smokey and the Bandit” nine years ago. I will take “RAD” over the “Smokey and the Bandit” sequels, the “Cannonball Run” movies, and “Stroker Ace” any day.

“RAD” (you know, when you give a movie a title like that, are you even trying to make it sound like a good movie?) is about BMX biking. The movie lets us know that right from the opening credits, which feature a lot of bike stunts during an ‘80s rock song. The protagonist of the story is a high school senior nicknamed “Cru” (Bill Allen) who lives for the wheel. He and his friends are paperboys (well, one of them is a papergirl) just so they can show off while delivering papers.

The Mongoose bicycling company, led by the sinister Duke Best, is creating a new bike-race track in Cru’s hometown. Duke Best wants the finest BMX bike racers to race in this new track—called “Hell Track”—for a big event to make lots of money. Funny, how unsubtle this man is at being greedy, and no one can tell. Cru wants to race in it, but needs to finish a qualifying race first. Unfortunately, his mother is less interested in his biking skills, and more interested in making sure he takes his SATs on the day of the qualifying race.

The town is visited by the famous BMXers who aren’t impressed this small town—“I’m surprised the street’s even paved,” one of them says sneeringly. But one of the bikers is a pretty number named Christian (Lori Loughlin), who of course becomes Cru’s new girlfriend after they share a dance…with their bikes. I have to admit this is a nicely-choreographed sequence, but the problem is that it is choreographed.

So, in “RAD,” we have the unexpected hero, unsupportive mother, the nasty antagonists, the supportive girlfriend, and of course, the big race. Every sports film cliché is thrown in here. (Oh, and did I mention that the mother is played Talia Shire of the “Rocky” movies?) But I liked “RAD” for these reasons—I enjoyed the bike stunts, Cru is likable (despite being played by a not-so-good young actor), his girlfriend is good-looking, and I just had the same feeling I had for this movie that I did for the fourth “Rocky” film, which was also silly and cliché-driven.

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