Airborne is very likely the most 1990s movie ever made. I know that’s a mighty bold claim to make, especially considering I am aware of the existence of the film Surf Ninjas, and that the trailer for that movie starts (STARTS) with a record scratch. But while Surf Ninjas only combined the 90s plot devices of, well, surfing and ninja, Airborne is stuffed to the gills with all things 90s. We’ve got: surfing, rollerblading, street sports, no less than four separate montages (including one, I sh*t you not, to the song “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred), bullies, an intense rivalry decided by a race, and tons of wailing guitars. Really, all you need for a 90s time capsule is this movie, a picture of Kelly Kapowski, and a Spin Doctors CD. Oh, also, the picture at right? That’s how Seth Green’s character looks when we’re introduced to him. Yeah.
The scene I’ll be breaking down is the climactic race at the end of the movie. It’s not like I had much of a choice. The scene takes up almost 18 minutes of the film’s 91-minute run time. Because if there’s one thing they teach you in Intro to Film for Non-Majors (A-, nbd), it’s that devoting 20% of your movie to a scene that was never foreshadowed, is never really explained, and features next to no dialogue, well that’s just a solid bit of filmmaking.
Strap on your rollerblades. We’re off.
As always, let’s begin by setting the scene. Pictured above is our protagonist, Mitchell Goosen, and his cousin Wiley. At the beginning of the movie, Mitchell is a laid back surfer dude who lives in California with his parents. We as an audience know this because approximately 90% of Mitchell’s lines in the movie discuss surfing, California, and being laid back. (See video below.) His parents win a research grant to study in Australia, and instead of taking their teenage son with them, they ship him off to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Cincinnati which is crazy because THERE IS NO OCEAN IN CINCINNATI AND NOW HOW WILL HE SURF OR SOMETHING. His parents’ rationale for not taking him with them is that they don’t want to “take him out of school for six months.” So, yes, this entire movie is based on the premise that there are apparently no schools Australia.
Also, that’s Seth Green again, as Mitchell’s dorky cousin Wiley. I don’t think any of you realize how many screenshots I have of his hair from this movie. I’ll spare you, but… yeesh. Fun fact: Someone in the wardrobe department actually made him look like that. On purpose.
These are two of our bullies/bad guys, although as this scene opens they’ve come around and befriended Mitchell. There are A LOT of bad guys in this movie. It gets a little confusing, so I’ll try to straighten it out for you. First, we have Snake, the Latino gentleman in the front. You can tell Snake is a bad guy for the following reasons: 1) everyone says he’s a bad guy; 2) his name is “Snake,” and; 3) he introduces himself thusly in speech class:
My name’s Snake. I don’t like speech. I never even signed up for it. And I ain’t got no hobbies, unless you call collecting knives and putting tattoos across the foreheads of guys I don’t like “hobbies.” And I have a 1.1 GPA.