September 8, 2010

The Grind (2009)

SETTLE DOWN, settle down…it’s not a full-length feature of the Eric Nies dance show from MTV.

Nope, it’s a gritty indie that answers the question, “What’s Ponyboy up to these days?”


Luke (C. Thomas Howell) owes a big chunk of change to the Mexican mob. If he doesn’t pay them in eight days…let’s just say he’ll be able to sing soprano quite easily.

His solution? Create a reality-show website featuring “four hot girls in a house” – Sophia (Eve Mauro), Brooke (Lauren Walsh), Naomi (Christina DeRosa), and Alex (Sarah Scott) – then sell the names and credit card numbers of the site’s subscribers to an identity-fraud criminal (Tom Sizemore in a cameo).

At first, the girls aren’t doing anything sexy or exciting, and the site bombs. As incentive, Luke starts offering a cash bonus to the craziest girl each night. But can he pull off the site, sell the customer data, and pay off his debt while keeping everyone involved safe?


In the two decades since he foolishly picked up Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher, Howell’s wide-eyed, boyish good looks have evolved into a weathered face that still commands the screen. He displays overacting and melodramatics at times in his portrayal of The Grind’s two-bit loser Luke, but the presence that made him a star in the ‘80s is still there, albeit behind a salt-and-pepper goatee and a bloodied face (courtesy of the film’s Mexican mob enforcers).

Writer/director John Millea keeps The Grind moving at a steady clip, which almost forgives the uneven performances of Mauro, Walsh, DeRosa, and Scott as the girls in the house. However, he employs far too much shaky-cam in an ill-fated attempt at added grittiness or edginess (the first meeting between Howell and Sizemore is especially nausea-inducing).

Despite a jumbled, rushed ending with a less-than-satisfying twist, The Grind is an above-average indie that’s moderately compelling. If anything, it has one of the best lines I’ve heard in a film recently: When Luke is pitying himself over his situation, his loan shark (A Simple Plan’s Brent Briscoe) says, “It’s called life. And you’re bad at it.”

* Catch the cameo by Danny Trejo (Machete) as the boss of the Mexican mob.
* Millea used to rent movies at a place on his street called Video Archives from a very enthusiastic movie buff named Quentin Tarantino.


Is it suitable for your kids?
No, it’s not. The four girls in The Grind provide ample amounts of nudity and sexually graphic situations with men, each other, and, um, themselves. There’s also a ton of profanity, one character smokes a bong, and two men are violently stabbed. Also, in the opening scene, Mexican mobsters shove Howell’s hand in a garbage disposal. (Maybe that’s why it’s called The Grind – HEY-oh!)

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she has fond memories of Howell and wonders what happened to him, she might be curious to see The Grind…just brace her for how he looks in this film. It’s a far cry from Secret Admirer.

The Grind
* Director: John Millea
* Screenwriter: John Millea
* Stars: C. Thomas Howell, Michael Welch, Tanya Allen, Sarah Scott, Lauren Walsh, Eve Mauro, Christina DeRosa
* MPAA Rating: R

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