From the windows in my home office, I can glimpse promises of the glories outdoors — a Sunday morning, cool and perfectly clear, the sun shining softly and seductively. The guy across the street is revving up his mint ’97 Softtail Harley, prepping to hammer his heart out on the motorcycle-friendly roads of Buncombe County. I’m nauseous with envy. A girl cannot go to bed every night marking passages in Hawk Hagebak’s Motorcycle Adventures in the Southern Appalachians and not consider life is passing her by if she’s working on a review of a bad biker movie instead of being on a bike herself.
You’d assume that Biker Boyz — as the “z” in the title not so subtly suggests — would be a gritty, crotch-rocket tale of underground motorcycle clubs, African-American style. Well, dream on, because Boyz is a bagger, as we Motorcycle Mamas say — it’s all promise and no-show. It augers with full cranial disharmony on the one thing it should do gonzo: express the joys of motorcycling.
Blame has to fall on director Reggie Rock Bythewood, who never surmounted a mind-numbing script and allowed his lead actors to sleepwalk through their performances. Despite the pounding soundtrack that tries valiantly to emotionalize this movie (and even the presence of rock star Kid Rock as a mean gang-club leader), Boyz moves like nothing more than a slow-motion gravity check. Its psychedelic, cycle-paraphernalia-ized bikes might shock a retro grouch, but they’re nothing more than ear-splitting eye-candy. The buff riders strut and grimace and pull wheelies, but they never reveal why they race — they never show that unquenchable passion for speed that stokes their adrenaline and drives them beyond reason. In Boyz, the only rush you feel is the one toward the door when the final credits finally begin.
Luke Derek (Antwone Fisher) is Kid, a charmless teenager who emerges on the race scene as a gangsta-rap-ass rider. He hustles his fellow racers, insults his elders and makes faces — in particular, he pouts. Needless to say, anybody over 20 hates him. Luke is obsessed with knocking the crown off Smoke, a racing legend played by a beefy Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix). When these two morons discover that they are biological father and son, the competition between them is supposed to seethe into deep cinematic-Oedipal — or at least Darth Vader-and-Luke proportions. Don’t believe that either. All you want to do when you learn their genetic connection is smack the mother (Vanessa Bell Calloway, The Brothers) who didn’t tell the truth years earlier.
Mom is just as brainless as the other women in the movie. There’s tattoo artist Meagan Good (Ride or Die), who saunters bodice-naked-to-her-navel through a bar packed with horny bikers and takes offense when Kid tries to chat her up. Then there’s Lisa Bonet (TV’s The Cosby Show) as Queenie, an older girlie biker who comes out of nowhere to cuddle up with Smoke one night while he’s contemplating the movie’s inane motto, “Burn rubber, not your soul.”
The only life in Boyzcomes from the supporting players. Brendan Fehr (Final Destination) as Stuntman has a super-appealing Owen Wilson quality that will catapult him to better movies. Orlando Jones is an underused actor with lots of possibilities (see him as the beleaguered music professor in Drumline. His fascinating lawyer-by-day/biker-by-night character is worth its own movie. Also notable is the energetic Rick Gonzales (The Rookie), who plays a funny, wild-mouthed hustler.