Release Date(s)1987 (July 24, 2018)
Studio(s)United Artists (MVD Rewind Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: C+
- Extras Grade: C+
During the 1980s, many a film was released in the teen comedy milieu, some being raunchier than others when it came to the content. Everything from Summer School to Valley Girl to The Last American Virgin got their shot, and despite some not being successful, many are now considered cult classics. Windrider, on the other hand, is one I certainly hadn’t seen, let alone heard of before, maybe because it doesn’t have as much of a following as those previously mentioned. Perhaps it’s because it’s an Australian import. Perhaps it’s because it’s about a windsurfing contest. Or perhaps it’s because the only recognizable actor in it to most folks is Nicole Kidman. Whatever the case may be, it’s a cheerful discovery that just goes to prove that any group of elements cobbled together having to do with teenagers or 20-somethings in the 1980s was bound to get the movie treatment at some point or another.
Stewart P.C. Wilson (Tom Burlinson) is a young executive at his father’s company by day, but during his off hours, he’s a world class windsurfer, eager to prove himself in the upcoming world windsurfing championship against a rival, but equally-talented windsurfer. However, upon meeting a beautiful, young rock singer named Jade (Nicole Kidman), who witnesses P.C. perform a perfect 360 degree windsurfing move, the two fall in love with each other. But as the championship grows closer and closer, P.C. begins to wonder if he should hang up his board for good and grow up, despite being encouraged by Jade and his father to continue.
Windrider, in fairness, feels like a lot of 80s movies all rolled into one: Risky Business, Top Gun, Real Genius, The Sure Thing, and One Crazy Summer, just to name a few. So in that way, it feels like pretty familiar territory. It’s perfectly generic, but in a charming way that only movies from that era can be. While its story is mostly all about P.C. and how he goes from being a bit of a self-centered jerk to a more well-rounded person, it takes tiny detours with often unfunny gags and stale comic relief from some of his fellow beach bums, as well as Jade’s laid-back, pot-smoking band members.
The film also saw some controversy because of Nicole Kidman, who appeared nude in a couple of scenes, which was the first time she had ever appeared that way in a film. She had just grown up in the eyes of viewers after being in movies like Bush Christmas and BMX Bandits, along with a few TV appearances. And while at the time she told the press she was fully comfortable and happy with appearing nude in the film, she told others later on that she felt exploited.
Regardless of what the actual situation was, it didn’t ultimately matter in the scheme of things. Windrider bombed upon release in the U.S. and was quickly forgotten. Over the years, it’s had some resurgence thanks to home video, most especially because of Nicole Kidman’s nude scenes. However, many overlook the film’s other qualities. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s an enjoyable little comedy that feels like a slice of chocolate cake. Yeah sure, it’s quaint and you’ve had it before, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty.
For MVD Rewind’s Blu-ray release of the film, they appear to have a transfer sourced from a theatrical print, which is likely all that survives. Knowing that going in, one must expect a few things: thick levels of grain, crushed blacks, a loss of detail, and some occasional print damage. It has all of those things, but I doubt anybody will be overly hard on this presentation. First of all, it has a strong color palette with plenty of variety. From the interiors of P.C.’s office building to the sun-soaked beaches with blue skies, there’s plenty of color to appreciate. Skin tones are also quite good. Brightness and overall contrast levels are acceptable as well. Despite the lack of fine detail, there’s still plenty leftover. It’s as sharp a presentation as you’re going to get off of a print this worn, meaning that there are scratches, speckling, changeover cue marks, and streaking through the frame throughout the entire film, which is more noticeable in some shots than others. There’s also some minor instability from time to time. However, it’s a very organic-looking presentation without heavy-handed restoration to make it look more artificial, which is the lesser of two evils in my opinion. For the audio, an English 2.0 mono LPCM track is included with no subtitle options. It’s a fairly flat presentation with little to no widening. Some of the dialogue overlaps a bit, but there’s no obvious distortion. The music selection comes through well, but sound effects tend to have little to no life to them, including the crashing waves and the screeching of P.C.’s tires at a stop light. Like its video counterpart, it could use some improvement, but it works for the presentation at hand without any major interference.
Extras for this release include an audio commentary with director Vince Monton and writer Everett De Roche, moderated by filmmaker Mark Hartley, which is a lively commentary as Monton and De Roche reminisce about the film while Hartley interjects to ask questions with plenty of interesting and honest answers, especially about Nicole Kidman (despite being slightly out of sync with the film); a brief music promo featuring “Nicole Kidman” (Lisa Hill actually) singing “Running Hot”; a music video promo for the song “Young Days” by Boyd Wilson; a 3-minute Windrider windsurfing promo (bizarrely set to a kick-ass rock version of “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”); an animated photo gallery featuring 34 behind-the-scenes and promotional images; a set of trailers for this film, as well as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, D.O.A.: A Right of Passage, Black Eagle, Savannah Smiles, and Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back By Five; and a fold-out poster insert. Not included from the film’s original DVD release from Umbrella Entertainment is an extended version of the film’s love scene, a press kit, press clippings, and the film’s script.
Windrider may appear pretty toothless at first glance, and it is, but it grows on you the more you watch it. There’s nothing overly aggressive about it, but once you’re on P.C.’s side and want him to succeed, you’ll find yourself caught up in it. In other words, the MVD Rewind Collection scores another cult favorite, hopefully with enough cult behind it to support it.
- Tim Salmons