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ASPEN EXTREME. Directed and written by Patrick Hasburgh; produced by Leonard Goldberg for Hollywood Pictures. Starring Paul Gross, Peter Berg, Finola Hughes and Teri Polo. Rated PG-13.


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Deep powder and shallow characters. That's Aspen Extreme in a nutshell.

The powder part, the skiing, is truly awesome. Most of the best scenes were actually filmed in remote areas of British Columbia (becoming a very popular movie location!) and the scenery is quite spectacular. The skiing is likewise not the kind most vacationers are familiar with, either, with near-vertical drops, wild terrain and hidden dangers like crevasses and avalanches.

But the story hung around the skiing video is nothing to get excited about. It is mildly entertaining, in an overly melodramatic way. But it's hardly enough to keep the audience awake until the next out-of-bounds ski adventure.

It's not that nothing happens in between the skiing. In fact, too much does. Boy becomes ski instructor. Boy meets rich girl and poor girl. Rich girl dumps boy. Boy falls down crevasse, is nursed by poor girl. Rich girl comes back, boy dumps poor girl. Boy has spiritual crisis, fights with best friend, wants to be writer. Boy finally wins big ski race, goes back to poor girl.

Whew! That's a lot of action to ask of these one-dimensional characters.

The actors taking this on are somewhat overwhelmed, as well. But they manage to retain a certain level of appeal. Gross is acceptably gorgeous and charming as main character T.J. (the "boy" in my synopsis). But, as is often the case in stories like this, his off-beat, un-gorgeous friend Dexter (Berg) is the more interesting personality.

The girls are predictably sweet (Polo) and alluring (Hughes) but are even less well-developed characters than the guys are.

There are probably highlight videos that could provide more good skiing footage than you get in Aspen Extreme. And you wouldn't have to wade through the extra stuff it piles on. Skiing fans should consider this picture an excellent opportunity to save money for their own lift tickets, by not shelling out for the movie tickets.

February 3, 1993

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