26 August 2013 | Wuchakk
Solid ski flick
"Aspen Extreme" (1993) is a ski flick about two guys from Detroit who decide to throw the dice and move to Aspen where they're hired as ski instructors. TJ is a walking stud with loads of charm (Paul Gross), but his buddy Dex, albeit likable, is a problem waiting to happen (Peter Berg). TJ catches the eye of two women: a local DJ, Robin (Teri Polo), and a high society vamp, Bryce (Finola Hughes). Meanwhile TJ and Dex seek to win an important powder skiing contest.
Someone described "Aspen Extreme" as "Top Gun on skis" and that's a good brief description as both films balance the drama with the action and have rockin' soundtracks. But there are huge differences in that "Top Gun" takes place at a prestigious military flight school and therefore involves military personnel, whereas "Aspen Extreme" is about two regular dudes who ride into Aspen with only their van and essential belongings. Furthermore, "Top Gun" takes place in San Diego, whereas "Aspen Extreme" takes place in Aspen, Colorado, where the film was shot (along with some opening scenes in Michigan).
You would think that the sport of skiing would have delivered up numerous movies over the years, but I can think of only two serious films on the topic -- this one and 1969's "Downhill Racer" with Robert Redford and Gene Hackman. Go figure. In any event, "Downhill Racer" is a favorite film of mine and "Aspen Extreme" doesn't come close to its greatness. Still, it's well-done for what it is.
There are a couple of scenes that standout: A scene where Dex foolishly decides to make some easy money as a drug courier. The sequence effectively shows how prone to paranoia you can get when you KNOW you're doing something wrong. Another scene effectively reveals a character's casual (and sick) love-'em-and-leave-'me mentality, and I'm not talking about a dude.
The mountain scenery is breathtaking, but there's one roll-your-eyes scene where one of the guys falls into a deep crevasse that has water in it (at that elevation in the middle of winter?). But, hey, it's Hollywood.
Some people complain about the film devolving into melodrama, but I never got this impression. The story takes place over the course of a couple of winters and is just showing the highlights. With the exception of the scene noted above, nothing struck me as radically over-the-top or out of the realm of possibility.
Teri Polo is a huge plus as she's very young and beautiful.
The film runs 113 minutes.