Always on the search for those ever-elusive “so bad it’s great” films.
Zolar (2004) clearly exists because some Warner Bros executive tried to capitalize on the popularity of X-Game with a Sci-Fi “spin” aimed at tweens. It’s a bizarre film that holds a dear place in my heart as it’s one of the more organic finds in our library.
Mouse bought me a copy of Zolar (2004) on a whim. Part of one of those movie barrels at Big Lots discount department store in a two for $5 deals. He specifically picked it out because of… well, just look at the cover.
It turned out to be one of the better examples of judging a book by it’s cover, because this thing is wild and cheesy and strangely charming while simultaneously disgusting all the way through.
Zolar (2004) initially was meant to serve as a pilot for a potential ongoing series for the Kids’ WB block on the now-nonexistent WB channel.
Let’s meet the titular Zolar:
Yep. That’s literally Zolar’s introduction in the film, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The movie begins toward the end as we jump into the middle of an snowboarding action scene on a mountain. Amid the chaos are five kids., siiiigh, trying to save the world. They are the most annoying, painfully dated early 2000’s kids.
The group of five kids are wildly diverse, with four of them different varying shades of white, and all conveniently fit within their particular social molds.
Hanson (Neil Denis) is the kinda nerdy, techie one who’s more interested in inventing/modifying skateboards than actually skating. Dex (Jesse Moss) is the cool, shade-donning leader (which should be obvious as his name is f’n DEX) who often points dramatically to someone or something off camera . Chelsea (Brittney Wilson), Dex’s little sister, takes care of most of the sass and “annoying little sibling” gags. Brett (some kid) is just some kid, and Keiko (Nicki Clyne) is of course the Lolita sexpot.
Yes, really. Zolar has a lot of bizarre tween sexuality permeating the film. The pink-haired Keiko isn’t subtle at all. She embodies the loli trope so fervently that she literally sucks on a lollipop every scene she’s in. The Foley artist for this film must have had a field day, because the sound effects for every time Keiko pulls that stupid lollipop out of her mouth would make for a “great” ASMR video. It sounds like my cat eating wet canned food.
A bit of an aside, but Nicki Clyne has gained semi-notoriety recently due to her affiliation with NXIVM, a multi-level marketing company alleged to, uh, well, be a recruiting platform for a secret society /cult in which women were branded and forced into sexual slavery. The leader is currently on trial, along with actress Allison Mack (Smallville) who has already plead guilty for her role in the company. Mack and Clyne are also actually married, too, and an allegedly green-card marriage at that.
Did I mention that the Soul Man himself, C. Thomas Howell is the mighty antagonist to Zolar? This time he’s in red and blackface as the nefarious Hedion.
This scrappy group of five kids is super into “extreme sports” which initially is just skateboarding and rollerblading. They’re a “team” though, an “Extreme Sports Crew” or whatever. They all can’t skate worth shit, though. The only thing they’re really good at is being a plucky crew that checks off all the character boxes.
Luckily for this garbage batch of teens, pro skateboarder Jason Ellis hangs around at a middle school skate park. His arm is in a sling, like Ted Bundy before clubbing someone and stuffing them into his Volkswagen Bug. He lies to the group and says they got what it takes, if they had a good coach, and recommends them Skip, a shady middle-aged stoner surfer who lives in a van on the beach.
He’s, like, totally baked, mannnn, and had a long day of sleeping in the sun, but remember Jason Ellis. Skip offers to coach the scrappy extreme sporting kids, so they can get ready for “the big tournament”… but only on one condition: The kids have to add his adopted son, Zolar (Jordan Hoffart) into their extreme crew.
Brett peaces the fuck out. Like, he deuces immediately. because Zolar is weird as shit due to being locked in a goddamn RV for fifteen years. He has no social skills, and he’s a big of a creeper if you know what I mean. He’s got poor eye contact, if you catch my drift.
There’s montages of the team practicing together as a team. They question Skip’s tactics so he makes the team wash his van, which leads to a carwash fight with soap and water flung willy nilly. It still oddly helps the team bond, who knew!? Even Dex’s terrible, expository voice-over ham-fistedly drives the point home when he says :
Skip was right, 12 hours later we were drenched, tired, and we were a lot closer as a team.
explaining exactly what we see
They bond as a team, yawn, whatever. The new and improved gang attends their first tournament with Zolar, who is super insecure because it’s his first time in public he’s a fucking blue creature from another planet with webbed feet for ears and a long unexplained bright red topknot Buddha braid.
Thankfully for Zolar, his good ole pops Skip is there to give him a motivational speech over the loudspeaker basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing “Who gives a shit if you’re blue, mannnn, you’re blue as shit, da ba dee da ba di, bro, just skate your balls off.” Zolar shreds the competition but it’s interrupted by Prentiss (Andrew McIlroy) and Geommer (Craig Erickson) two alien henchmen for Hedion.
Here’s where any semblance of plot dissipates and the film devolves into scenes of teenagers doing extreme sports, and running from other aliens. I’ll be frank, I’ve seen this film several times since being gifted it, and I still don’t fully understand what actually happens or what the stakes are.
Why does Hedion even care about Zolar at all? According to him and his henchfolk, they’ve been observing Zolar since his “life force” appeared on their “radar” only a couple weeks ago. BUT apparently Zolar is the most powerful being in the universe, but “doesn’t know it, yet”… even though Zolar has been living in a van at the beach for fifteen years. Whatever.
Prentiss and Geommer pose as Zolar’s species and pretend to be his parents. Zolar is an idiot and doesn’t notice even though they openly discuss shady motivations and they capture him. I think they want to harness or steal his power for themselves? They do this by tickling him.
Zolar’s “friends” come back to save him mostly because he’s the only one in their crew who actually has any talent for skating.
The film ends with a terrible cliffhanger as the shape-shifting henchman Prentiss morphs into Brett, who quit the team at the beginning of the film.
If this film performed better and went to series, what would the rest of the show be like? More montages of rollerblading in mostly empty warehouses? Skip giving half-baked advice? Will they ever release C. Thomas from his acting jail? These are questions we will unfortunately never receive.
He’s… blue! I’m not skating with some weird BLUE dude.
showing his racist colors
I’m Chelsea. Jason Ellis said you’re the greatest, most amazing and excellent extreme sports coach that ever lived and my team really needs you really, really, really bad.