A few of my friends and I had been waiting for North Hollywood to be released for what feels like two years. We all texted each other when we found out we would be able to rent it and found a night to watch it together. The cast and crew consists of professional skaters, mostly Illegal Civilization members. The director, Mikey Alfred founded Illegal Civ and used to make short films and skate videos. Now, he has a feature length film under his belt which heavily features skateboarding.
Michael is a teenager about to enter the summer before college with his best friends, Adolf and Jay. They skate and bust each other’s balls non stop, but they all know that they have to either find a job or go to college when the summer ends. Michael is determined to skate and make money doing it, even though his friends and especially his dad tell him there’s no way. It’s a simple summer story based around skateboarding that hits at times and then feels mishandled other times.
Michael is played pretty wonderfully by Ryder McLaughlin who made a solid appearance in Mid90s from 2018. His friends Adolf and Jay are hilarious and played by Aramis Hudson and Nico Hiraga. Nico has popped up in Booksmart, Moxie, and now this. The dude can flat out act and his skating style is easily my favorite out of the Illegal Civ crew. The best performance of the film is provided by Vince Vaughn, who plays Michael's dad. He has made some really cool and some really boring decisions with film roles the past decade or so. This is one of the cool ones. The story line I don’t really understand is Michael’s forced relationship with Rachel. Miranda Cosgrove plays her and she’s fine, but the writing for the scenes between her and McLaughlin is just weak. A chunk of the screenplay feels just kind of abrupt and sloppy. I’ll be honest, my expectations were really high going into North Hollywood. I liked it but I didn’t love it and that’s just kind of on me for building it up in my head. There’s clearly an audience for this film and I truly hope the lads at Illegal Civ get more chances to share their art. The potential is totally there!