There are a number of films that felt influential to my identity during my childhood. The Goonies (1985), Lethal Weapon (1987), The Terminator (1984), Spaceballs (1987) to name a few. These are films which, even now, with their various faults, still land on lists for laudable films. Then there are the films that I loved for reasons that only make sense when you’re an adolescent, like the rude, the crude, the mindlessly stupid, such as director Richard Correll’s (Fuller House) Ski Patrol (1990), proudly advertised as “from the creator of Police Academy.” Ski Patrol is simple in idea and everything from start-to-finish aims to realize that idea: let’s have some fun. For folks such as myself who enjoy reminiscing about the stupid things we laughed at as children, rejoice: Ski Patrol is coming to Blu-ray as part of the MVD Rewind Classics program.
Snow Peaks Lodge is preparing to open for the season and land developer Maris (Martin Mull) would love nothing more than to shut the whole place down. Devising a scheme to undermine Snow Peaks at every opportunity, Maris employs the services of ski trainer Lance (Corbin Timbrook) to help due to Lance’s grudge against Jerry Cramer (Roger Rose), the charming head patrolperson of Snow Peaks’s ski patrol unit. Can Jerry and his rag-tag group of misfits save Snow Peaks Lodge or will Maris succeed in turning the moguls into mall space?
Look, not every film is a masterpiece, but, then, not every film is setting out to be. Sometimes, it’s merely to make entertainment, to bring joy (or mayhem) and then depart. That’s the best way to look at a film like Ski Patrol, harmless from start to finish, spreading a tiny bit of laughter before it goes. Unlike Police Academy (1984), the script from Steven Long Mitchell (The Pretender) and Craig W. Van Sickle (The Pretender) is mostly harmless, never outright resorting to low-hanging fruit for its humor, opting to infer things instead. To this day, I don’t understand the joke about Japanese tourists taking photos in groups, but that was a common joke in films (perhaps cyclical in creating its own prevalence in films?), but I am more likely to understand why a woman is screaming with joy after she slips on her skis and face-rides her partner down part of the mountain. It’s its own little non-sequitur, one of many throughout Ski Patrol, that I didn’t get as a teen but I did understand as the writers’ way of showcasing that there’s not merely one story on the mountain belonging solely to Jerry and Lance’s fight for the mountain. In fact, perhaps the one thing that I still quite enjoy about Ski Patrol that hasn’t disappeared with time is that other films would’ve had Jerry realize what Lance’s crew was up to well before Maris was able to steal the mountain from owner Pops (Ray Walston). Instead, much of the shenanigans come as a result of the Ski Patrol crew doing silly stuff on their own *or* as a means of undoing whatever went wrong (unknowingly the result of Lance’s interference).
This doesn’t mean that Ski Patrol doesn’t follow the Police Academy formula as there is the home team, their opposition, and a group leader that the home team messes with. In the Police Academy series, G.W. Bailey’s Lt. Harris was that group leader, representing The Man that the rebellious Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) would go head-to-head with, often resulting in a gay joke to denigrate Harris. Mercifully, Ski Patrol doesn’t go that route with Ski Patrol leader Murray (played hilariously by Leslie Jordan), opting to screw with him the way siblings do, but never with ill-intent or through denigration. Instead, there’s just a frequent joke of him tripping over Jerry’s dog (who then farts or burps) that merely sets up an on-going rivalry between man and dog before the dog’s eventual saving of Murray at the end of the film. Even the joke about helping Murray get taller, though it’s taken pretty far, would only occur if this group had a history that allowed them to play these kind of pranks. It’s clear Jerry and the Ski Patrol team respect Murray and listen to him, making all the difference between a reductive joke and one among friends. Whether or not it’s actually funny, well, that’s for sure up to personal taste, but Jordan plays it beautifully. Another reason to miss the talented actor, who passed recently.
For those whom are excited about a first-time Blu-ray edition, sadly, this is about where the excitement ends. Home viewers get the film in 1.85:1 aspect ratio in a lovely 1080p presentation, but the audio is only 2.0 (no 5.1 mix) and, other than a theatrical and VHS trailer and some other MVD previews, there’re no bonus materials on-disc. All purchasers are offered is a limited edition slipcover available during the first pressing and reversible artwork on the cover. As someone who routinely giggled at character Suicide’s (Sean Sullivan) ridiculousness, still sings Frankie ford’s “Sea Cruise,” and remains amused at Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids; Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) elaborate dance sequence, having some kind of behind the scenes or commemorative featurette would’ve been a nice inclusion to really up the value of the home release.
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. No doubt about that. It has us looking back on what was and trying to find ways to recapture it every day. While a revisit of Ski Patrol as an adult demonstrates that my tastes as a child weren’t always top notch, the fact that elements still remain amusing to this day at least affords a moment, without cynicism or concern, to just turn off my mind and have a little fun. Ski Patrol is exactly that, a little fun, and fans of it can at least re-engage with the film in a fair improved video presentation. So, at least there’s that.
Ski Patrol Bonus Materials:
- Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)
- High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 1.85:1 aspect ratio
- Audio: LPCM 2.0 Stereo
- Optional English Subtitles
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Reversible Artwork
Available on Blu-ray November 22nd, 2022.
For more information, head to MVD Entertainment Group.