Movie Review: Rad

images (17)In 1986 there was a little film released that highlighted the world of BMX racing and that film was Rad. Yes, that is the title, as well as an apt description of the film. You probably didn’t see Rad. Almost no one did in theaters, but once released to the rental shops of the world it became a cult classic and spent the next 2 years as a top 10 rental. I like to think that my childhood chum Drew and I heavily contributed to this ranking as we rented Rad seemingly every weekend.

Because you didn’t see Rad, I’ll briefly sum up the plot because my notes will be hit or miss at best in keeping you up to speed with said plot. As always this will not be a classic movie review, but more an attempt at allowing you to enjoy the movie as if you were watching it with me.

Cru Jones is a high school kid who has a tough choice, to try and qualify for a chance to race on his towns brand new Helltrack or take his SATs. In defiance of his mother’s wishes Cru attempts to and succeeds at qualifying for the Helltrack race. The race and track were both set up by Duke Best, the owner of Mongoose Racing, with the intention of having the number 1 rider in the world, Bart Taylor, win and then he could launch a line Mongoose products endorsed by Bart. Duke fears that Cru can beat Bart and sets up road block after road block to prevent Cru from racing. Cru tackles them all with help from his friends and the town. During the race Bart’s teammates are instructed to take Cru down so Bart can win. In the end Bart sabotages his teammates and takes Cru on 1 on 1. Cru edges out Bart. Duke loses lots of money, fires Bart who then Cru hires for team Rad Racing.

$(KGrHqF,!hsFCv6iDKSbBQ8LVDjlpg~~60_35-Rad is not available for purchase on DVD, which is a goddamn shame. So I had to import a copy that was apparently ripped from a VHS tape then burned to a DVD in a basement somewhere in Japan. The fact that I only handle the case and disc while wearing a Back to the Future like fall out suit, aptly reflects this scenario and also the image quality sucks.

-Tri Star Pictures spent 11 million dollars on this film, God bless them! I would have asked at least once, “Where did the money go?” And I love this movie.

-This is a Hal Needham film. I don’t know what qualified Needham to direct teenagers on BMX bikes as his most successful movies were Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run, but it was an inspired choice and the world is a better place because of it.

rad-movie-25-year-anniversary-retrospective-Oh the 80s is already making me pine for a simpler time when Spike Owen was the Red Sox shortstop and the title credit for a movie could look like this!

-Bill Allen is Cru Jones and holds the lead credit followed by LORI LOUGHLIN, who I’m sure has a character name, but will for the duration of this piece only be referred to as LORI LOUGHLIN.

-The opening credit sequence, which is essentially a music video, is credits laid on top of a bunch of shots of unknown BMX riders doing various tricks that are fantastically simple but impressive nonetheless. Remember this is pre X-games, hell this helped pave the way for the X-games.

images (15)-You know a movie is old when paper routes play a major role in the exposition.

-First bike crash! On top of a car too! Kid gets up and shakes it off. Today we would assume he has a concussion, and call 911. Maybe I have the concussion, because he didn’t look like Greg Brady on a surfboard, but I could swear he just said “gnarly”.

-A “Beam me up Scottie” joke, welcome Star Trek to the party!

-Cru sees a sign advertising Helltrack and with that we have our protagonists end goal!

-2 swears in the 1st scene, how was I able to rent this movie every weekend starting at the age of 7?

-By the way, how awesome is the name Cru for an 80s movie protagonist?

-A small town is struggling financially so they build Helltrack to attract the nations best BMX bikers and the national TV coverage that accompany such a sporting event. Yes this plot is  super thin.

-As if the plot wasn’t thin enough we are into another music video where Cru and his crew are in a “friendly” chase with a motorcycle cop through a lumber yard.

images (18)-Wow Cru’s 10 year old little sister, who is a tomboy and reminds me of my own sis, just said bull shit. Can I retroactively contact the department of child services and report neglect for allowing this movie to be such a big part of my childhood or has the statute of limitations passed now that I’m 33?


images (16)-Its Rocky’s wife, Yo Adrian! I mean Talia Shire! I mean Cru’s mom. Yes, the excitement diminished significantly during these phrases.

-SATs or Helltrack? Its going to be a short movie if he chooses the SATs because who wants to watch a kid take the SATs?

-Parade is held in town to welcome all the bikers and we get our first shot of LORI LOUGHLIN.

-The twins, who are teammates of #1 in the world Bart Taylor, have always reminded me distinctly of Tomax and Xamot of G.I. Joe fame.

images (5)-LORI LOUGHLIN shuts down #1 in the world Bart Taylor, she is of course saving herself for Uncle Jesse. See you thought I was going to say Cru, but I don’t care what the scripts says, LORI LOUGHLIN was saving herself for Uncle Jesse.

-Cru is currently pea cocking his bike skills in front of a girl, who is NOT LORI LOUGHLIN, in an attempt to get her to attend a dance with him. Dear Cru, that might have worked at 12, its not going to work at 16 and I’m pretty sure you are 17.

-Maybe its the constantly matching Star Trek looking outfits that have me thinking that these twins really are Tomax and Xamot who have been sent by Cobra Commander to first garner the support and trust of this little community, and then branch out  to the surrounding communities. They also did the inch worm at the school dance.images (11)foy_0806_08





-LORI LOUGHLIN invites Cru to do a bike trick dance with her in the middle of the dance floor at the school dance. It is easily the best scene of the movie because it is set to Real LIfe’s, “Send Me an Angel”.

-So far this movie has 4 distinct music video scenes of people doing BMX tricks. Now lets be clear I watched this movie virtually every weekend for years and am just realizing this now.

marty-mcfly-and-converse-chuck-taylor-all-star-canvas-high-top-sneakers-gallery-Also Cru wears black Chucks, he and Marty McFly obviously were the influences behind my most common choice of footwear.

-Cru’s practice bike ramp is covered with mattresses until LORI LOUGHLIN tells him to grow some balls. He removes the mattresses and finally rotates through a complete airwalk, a backwards somersault. He rotates so much that he over rotates and lands flat on his back. It is the classic Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown moment.

-Music video #5 involves a homemade water slide and that movie miracle instantly dried clothing. The script supervisor needs to fired immediately, if they are even still alive.

images (13)-Cru is making out with LORI LOUGHLIN, Uncle Jesse is gonna be pissed!

-Duke Best, the man who built Helltrack, is equating its significance to BMX racing with the Super Bowls significance to the NFL. The plot thins.


images (12)-The bikers decked out in all their gear and pads remind me of the characters from the 8-bit Nintendo game Excitebike. Yes, I know Excitebike was dirt bikes and fuck you for being a know it all and pointing it out.

-Music Video #6 has LORI LOUGHLIN looking like a classic 80s love interest in her turtleneck and white pants. I hope it isn’t after Labor Day, but isn’t even the day before Labor Day technically 364 days after Labor Day?

-Cru needs to finish 3rd or better in the 3rd heat to qualify for Helltrack, but he’s fallen! Can he get up and make up the ground? Of course he can, predictability is a hallmark of any good 80s movie.

-Cru is now a local celebrity with a subtle hint at a possible menage-a-trois even! How racy!

-After being told he can’t race without a sponsor Cru and crew create their own race team, Rad Racing, because Cru’s little sis thinks he is so rad she put it on a t-shirt. Notice also that the shirt is sleeveless.


rdrcg-In order for Rad Racing to create the t-shirts to be sold at Helltrack the team devises some sort of “do our slave labor in exchange for having your homework done” racket. Someone should call the board of labor or the board of education or both. I again question why it was it was ok for me to watch this movie at such a young age.

-Music video 7 is a follow the leader with Cru leading LORI LOUGHLIN around and ending with them getting big air into a river and their bikes ending up at the bottom. How did they get their bikes out? Seemed pretty deep and I didn’t see any diving gear anywhere.

-They again changed the rules knocking Cru out of the race. For a kid who has never competed in a sanctioned BMX race this guy sure scares the shit out of the bad guys.

images (10)-Old guy wearing a bow tie said this great line, “I’m beginning to see you as something I stepped in, and I don’t like the smell of it.” I will be putting this quote into my regular rotation.



images (9)-LORI LOUGHLIN and Cru make up after a brief fight over Cru’s sulking and make out while sharing an ice cream cone. I think they were trying to be sexy like Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost, but they were wearing far too much clothing for that, plus neither of them could possibly be vanquished by Peter Venkman.

-Cru gets into the race, predictably, thanks to the help of the old man in the bow tie who had that great quote above, and he had said the world would be a better place without kids about 5 music videos ago, but he is really a softy at heart.

-Cru is number 33, you KNOW that Larry Bird karma assures him of victory.

-In Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace they take the time to introduce all the pod racers and give them each a close up, it must be an homage to Rad’s BMX racers introduction before the Helltrack race. Its not the only choice George Lucas made in Episode 1 that I agree with, but it certainly is one of his best.






-The Helltrack race is off starting music video #8!

-Cru holds a lead over Bart for most of lap 1, but falls in lap 2!

-He gets up quick and is making up ground like a man possessed according to the announcer, although it is unclear to this viewer how effective a possessed biker would actually be.

-The amount of crazy 80s saxophone in this song is simply sublime!

-Cru makes up an amazing amount of ground in short time cutting out part of the course via airwalk.

-Cru is hot on the tails of Bart and his boys, Bart decides he wants to face Cru 1 on 1 and takes out Tomax and Xamot then pauses waiting for Cru.

-Bart is certainly not a biker who would use PEDs like a certain man who used to live strong, Bart wants a fair fight.

tumblr_m2mpd5XlNn1rtmhi1o1_400-Its is neck and neck the whole way through the final lap of the track.

-And Cru wins! Cru wins! OH MY GOD THE INDIANS, I MEAN, CRU WINS!

-Music Video #9, the closing credits which look just like the opening credits. Its very much perfect 80s symmetry, just like Cru winning was very much perfect 80s predictability.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Rad

  1. I used to watch this movie religiously as a kid. I mention “Rad” quite often since I hear “Send me an Angel at work, and nobody ever knows what I’m talking about. I thought EVERYBODY watched this movie. Just the other day, I saw a guy with a Rad Racing shirt on. He acted like he had no idea what I was talking about when I told him about how much I love the movie. That was depressing. I recently searched for it on ebay and it looks like I can only get some kind “bootleg” copy (which I’ll probably get), like you said. Reading this took me back through the whole movie with quotes and all, and I am SMILING! And no I did not realize how many music videos there were. Thank you so much. This was awesome!

  2. Loved this movie! Rented every weekend till the tape burned out. Lots of great memories here! I hear they are building a replica hell track in a couple weeks in Texas. Wish i could go!!!

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