Why We Ride: Film Review
Bryan H. Carroll’s film celebrates both the greats and the unknowns of motorcycling.
Leveraging substantial appeal and abundant style, Why We Ride adeptly challenges the misconception of motorcyclists as “outlaw bikers” – always more of a marginal group compared to the vast majority of recreational and pro riders who have popularized motorcycling as both a pastime and a globally renowned sport.
Covering a wide range of motorcycling styles while reaching out to multiple communities of riders, Bryan H. Carroll’s doc has the potential to capture the attention of legions of enthusiasts worldwide.
Kickstarting things off with a succinct and highly entertaining capsule history of motorcycling in the US, the film pays tribute to some of the early heroes of the sport, whose bareheaded exploits in death-defying races became the stuff of legend among enthusiastic fans.
Some, like famed race champion Ed “Iron Man” Kretz, managed to build careers, and even family dynasties around the sport, as described by his daughter Donna Jean and son Ed Jr., a national competitor himself in the 50s and 60s. Others challenge the clock in time-trials (often at speeds topping 200mph), including Valerie Thompson, a land-speed record holder.
Diehard devotees are epitomized by designers of bikes and accessories like Troy Lee, who illustrates helmets he paints by hand, and the Ness family of custom bike builders, now encompassing three generations. Hobbyists are also well-represented, participating in events like motocross and its extreme-sport spinoff hill climbing, although few seem inclined to consider the environmental impacts of off-road biking activities. This lively mix of both male and female motorcyclists casts a wide net, even if racial diversity is noticeably lacking among those profiled.
With a notable level of pedigree among interview subjects from throughout the industry, the film’s emphasis on family and community comes as little surprise, nor does its dismissal of the stereotypical reprobate biker image, as perpetuated by popular media and movies like Marlon Brando’s The Wild One.
Thrilling footage of motorcycle events expertly directed by Carroll and impressively shot by cinematographers Andrew Waruszewski and Douglas Cheney in sharp HD muscularly augment in-depth interview segments, which could have been better set up by identifying the subjects involved before the final credits. Although a rather self-congratulatory air intermittently hangs over the film, the accomplishments of the participants and the popularity of motorcycling speak for themselves, without the need for superfluous commentary.
Opens: Nov. 1 (Kretz Media Holdings)
Production companies: Gnarlynow Entertainment, Walking West Entertainment
Director: Bryan H. Carroll
Screenwriter: Chris Hampel
Producers: James Walker, Bryan H. Carroll
Executive Producer: Walter Zuck
Directors of photography: Andrew Waruszewski, Douglas Cheney
Music: Steven Gutheinz
Editors: Ryan Wise, David Blackburn
Rated PG, 89 minutes