Director Rob Bowman’s 1993 inline skating dramedy “Airborne” is the most nineties-est film of the entire decade, and damn it, I love it. It’s so 90’s, it automatically cancels out “Empire Records” and “Clueless,” combined. I suspect Warner and Bowman expected to begin a brand new nationwide rad inline skating craze with “Airborne,” by pandering to their love for all things extreme and edgy of the sport. Including long hair, surfing, flannel, hockey, and an extreme final race that’s so extreme it’s extra-eme.
Mitchell is a young man who is so extreme he surfs and he rollerblades. He is forced to move from California to dumb ol’ not extreme Ohio, while his parents are away working in Australia. Mitchell is so rad and dope he is also a pacifist, and really does promote that fact often, with diatribes on life, and his funky fresh fantasies about surfing in California shores. He is forced to live with his goofy un-extreme uncle and aunt, along with his younger cousin Wiley. As played by a young Seth Green, Wiley is also an amalgam of everything from the decade, which include colorful clothing, long red hair, and a goofy temperament reminiscent of peak Dustin Diamond.
Mitchell finds going to school in Ohio not so bad, as he manages to befriend a gorgeous classmate named Nikki. Mitchell also runs afoul a gang of school hockey team jocks, all of whom turn on Mitchell when he accidentally hits on the team captain Jack’s girlfriend. The Ohio guys are also annoyed by Mitchell’s very easy going and free loving attitude, which makes him enemy number one. Nothing says threatening more than a guy preaching peace and love. So now Mitchell must put up with a slew of pranks and mean bullying from Jack and his group of cronies, all of whom are determined to make Mitchell’s life miserable. But Mitchell insists he won’t break since he knows how to deal with bullies, and he’ll show them how extreme it is to turn the other cheek.
Of course Mitchell escapes his school time misery by inline skating everywhere he can in Ohio, and even begins falling for Nikki, who takes a liking to Mitchell’s unkempt and daring attitude. He’s inline skating after all. That’s like wrestling crocodiles, or something. But wouldn’t you know it? As Mitchell and Nikki begin falling for one another, Mitchell learns that mean old Jack is actually her big brother, and now complications ensue. Does he pursue Nikki? Does he fight Jack? Does giving in to violence make you not rad? “Airborne” is one of those nineties films that really does work well, if only because it tries for a genuinely entertaining dramedy while pandering to the Extreme Sports crowds, everywhere. It’s a shame we never saw Shane McDermott again, but at least we were left with Seth Green, and Jack Black.