Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stars and Bars Makes Me Happy

Mountain bike movies rarely live up to my expectations. I grew up on ski films that made me wish I was the one hauling through waist deep powder or negotiating a billy-goat line. I’d get so fired up I’d put on my boots and skis in the living room in August. Then again, there are plenty of ski flicks that miss the point. Once directors overwhelm a film with a cheesy plot, bad athlete acting, or too much of one kind of terrain, the Fun Factor goes straight to lame. These evil elements dominate too many mountain bike movies. We end up with all huck, all race, or all cheese, and rarely does the viewer yearn to be the rider. When was the last time you saw a mountain biking movie that made you want to run home, grab your bike, and start slashing corners?

All Out Productions’ new release Stars and Bars makes me want to ride, and it makes me want to ride fast. If you’ve seen any of Theo Dilworth’s previous videos (All Out Grease, Hella Greasy), you know his work is fun, fast-paced and well edited. Stars and Bars takes things a step further by combining witty artistic elements with entertaining riding. It’s the kind of movie you can watch 25 times and pick out something new every time you press play.

Theo follows all the rules. He keeps the dialog to a minimum, and what is included is totally hilarious—like Brad Benedict’s references to his scraper bike (click here if that means nothing to you). The plot is linear and focuses entirely on the riders. Racing, freeriding, and hucking all get time in the spotlight, and we see all types of terrain throughout the film. Plus, the soundtrack is as entertaining as the riding.

A mix of classic rock, punk, indie, and hiphop selections keep each segment fresh. For instance, The Gourds’ bluegrass remix of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice plays during the Fontana segment. SoCal gangster meets twangy banjo? That’s Fontucky for you! Stuck in the Middle with You is smartly paired with the Angel Fire mountaincross segment—get it? And of course, what kind of movie named Stars and Bars would be complete without a little touch of the theme song from Team America World Police?

Stars and Bars showcases several of America’s current upper-tier gravity players, Cole Bangert, Luke Strobel, Ryan Condrashoff, and Brad Benedict, as they travel from the 2007 Sea Otter Classic to the season finale at Snowmass, CO. What separates Stars and Bars from other racing movies is that whether the boys are racing or showing off their home turf, they look, act, and ride like they’re having a blast. It makes me want to jump on my bike and have as much fun as my fellow ‘Mericans.

My favorite segments are filmed near San Diego with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, J.D. Swanguen (yellow), Cody Warren (white), Aaron Gwin (red), and the Griz (black). They’re riding a burned-out hill, and their full-kit colors look surreal against the scorched terrain. The riders flow through lines like I’ve only seen in big mountain ski and snowboard films. In the following segment, Theo captures J.D.’s smooth, confident style as he carves through delightful-looking dirt. It feels similar to watching skier Seth Morrison tear up Alaskan lines in MSP’s High Society.

The only thing missing from Stars and Bars is the ladies. Lisa Myklak, Caroline Jarolimek and Jess Vogt are each appear briefly, but not on their bikes. A crash by Kimber Gabryszak, quick shots of Melissa Buhl and Kathy Pruitt racing, and the final pro women’s mountaincross heat at Snowmass are the only times girls actually ride in the film. Theo promises to have a few more female segments in his soon-to-be released slopestyle film, Floatin’. But regardless of whether you’re a boy or girl, if you’re a fan of going fast downhill, you’ll walk away from Stars and Bars itching to grab your bike and haul some booty.

For more information about All Out Productions, visit
To purchase Stars and Bars, visit

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