Generally speaking, calling a film “ordinary” is not a compliment—but in the right context, it’s not precisely a dig, either. Sidecar Racers, a sports melodrama coproduced by American and Australian companies, hits nearly every cliché associated with sports films, and the characterizations are just as trite as the plotting. Yet one gets a sense of actors and filmmakers contributing the best efforts possible given the circumstances, since it’s clear neither the budget nor the schedule was quite sufficient for making a picture with plentiful action scenes and location changes. Even more praiseworthy is what the film lacks. Seeing as how the potential for a romantic triangle simmers just below the surface of the narrative, it would have been easy to edge this picture into a rougher style, accentuating sex during off-the-track scenes. Opting for a more family-friendly style works in Sidecar Racers’ favor. The movie isn’t much, but at least it’s inoffensive and relatively sincere.
Jeff (Ben Murphy) is an American athlete bumming around Australia after his Olympic career ends. One day while surfing, he catches the attention of Lynn (Wendy Hughes), the lover of volatile sidecar racer Dave (John Clayton). She envisions Jeff taking the place of Dave’s old partner, who died during a race. A tryout run proves that Jeff’s superior balance control suits sidecar racing, so the trio makes a go of it, eventually winning several matches and nearly qualifying for sponsorship from Lynn’s father (Peter Graves), who has previously shown nothing but contempt for the reckless and selfish Dave.
Although nothing that happens in Sidecar Racers is fresh or imaginative, the stunt work in racing scenes is wild, giving a real sense of danger as men riding alongside motorcycles dangle their helmeted skulls just inches above the ground at insane speeds. Additionally, all of the actors give serviceable performances, with occasional moments connecting emotionally. If all of this sounds too shallow for you, then you’re wise to steer clear—but if adequately rendered sports stuff with a little Aussie novelty seems like a agreeable diversion, you’ll get exactly that from Sidecar Racers.
Sidecar Racers: FUNKY
Hey, it's got Peter Graves! Maybe he thought Bigfoot was in New Zealand.
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