Extreme Days

The latest entry in the burgeoning Christian film subgenre is the best one yet, but again this is not saying much. It is good because it does not push religion into the face of the audience, and does not rely on some unappealing, over-the-top story. Extreme Days goes in the other direction. It wallows in the ordinary. Four good friends decide to spend their summer having fun in Mexico until the unexpected death of one of their relatives prompts a trip to Washington. Along the way, they still find time for paintball, surfing, snowboarding, biking, and other so called 'extreme sports.' The main weakness in this film is that it sometimes feels like nothing more than a series of sports clips on cable, with the people doing the stunts who are obviously not the actors. The fresh faces and eager performances by the cast balance this, even getting past a very minor story.

Corey's (Dante Basco, But I'm a Cheerleader, The Lion's Den) grandfather died, leading to the impromptu trip north. His friends Bryan (Ryan Browning, The Smokers, The Intern), Will (A.J. Buckley, The Forsaken, The In Crowd), and Matt (Derek Hamilton, Disturbing Behavior, Silver Man) agree to accompany him since they all knew his grandfather. Along the way, they pick up Matt's cousin Jessie (Cassidy Rae, Crime in Connecticut, Crowned and Dangerous), who Bryan immediately sets his sights on. Corey is the wild one, Bryan the ladies man, Will the level-headed one, and Matt the weird one. Aside from the funeral as an excuse for a road trip and an outlet for some philosophising about life, there really is no point to Extreme Days. The random forays into sports soon becoming tiring, with a race in the supermarket and an extended kung-fu parody skirting the edge of boring.

However, the actors are so at ease with each other in their roles that it does become somewhat fun to watch. Writer/director Eric Hannah and co-writer Craig Detweiler (The Duke) are good at capturing close friends joking around. Their horseplay, false bravado, and juvenile humor (hey boys, let's light farts) are remiscent of what any guy would do at their age. They want to live carefree lives without worrying about a thing until reality intrudes on their little dream. It seems like they are truly friends who feel close and comfortable around each other. The romance between Bryan and Jessie is a bit too cheesy, and serves as the main point for the minor amount of evangelism that occurs in the film. Bryan is a lapsed Christian, angry with God. He is a womanizer, and wants Jessie as his next conquest. Jessie is Christian, and does not want to be played. Hannah clumsily handles the moral dilemma on both sides, giving it the emotion pull of an afterschool special. For the most part, the actors handle their scenes well, especially when they are goofing off. The only flub occurs when the script veers towards emotion. Basco has the most screentime where his character needs to be serious, and he does not handle them too well. Otherwise, Extreme Days is a relatively minor film that serves as an interesting foray into something different.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG for some thematic elements and crude humor.

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