Hard Miles

Hard Miles

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A failure initiates the fact-based “Hard Miles.” What Greg Townsend (Matthew Modine) does when he is a social worker. He pleads with a judge to let a boy who has been in trouble for fighting with another boy stay at a facility for teenage boys in this area. He says to the judge that by pushing one of their peers, he was only protecting someone else from being harmed. Although the magistrate says that the youth should be transferred to another juvenile penitentiary type institution which is more secure.

It’s not his fault but rather the system that allows these minors to be treated like criminals instead of seeing them as opportunities for reformation. This entails making them realize that they have other alternatives and potentials. Townsend explains, “If they see the bigger world, they can want to be a part of it.” To do this, according to him, and take them on 762 miles bike ride from Colorado to Grand Canyon. The real Greg Townsend inspired “Hard Miles” since thousands of young men have been taken by him on these bicycle trips It makes for an engaging tale while containing both beautiful scenery and rugged exercise, inspirational speeches as well as adolescent rebellion mixed together with emotional showdowns between teenagers and their supervisors.

The small center where Townsend works is under threat of being closed down. Skip (Leslie David Baker of “The Office”), his supervisor, believes there would be good publicity if they go hiking: ‘urban delinquents rehabilitated by tall trees and sunlight.’ Running away from hike is difficult But Greg insists it must be a bike trip

There are three main problems. First, they don’t own bicycles. Second no experience along with group known troublemakers means getting into trouble or hurt or running away would surely follow suite plus thirdly none of the boys wish to attend nor trust each other so that they don’t even talk or hike together However nfortunately Goetz conveniently happens also happens to be the shop’s owner, who can provide them with gears and wheels. He manages to convince his colleague Haddie, (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) to drive a van that will carry all of their equipment. She is willing to do anything but wash clothes. These are synthetic bike shorts and tops that should not be inflicted on anyone except the people who wear them through hundreds of miles in the desert.

Townsend wanted the young men to experience the grandeur of the Arizona and Colorado landscapes. He wanted them to learn what they could accomplish, and he wanted them to learn to be a part of something outside themselves. The most realistic thing about this movie is how it demonstrates that these kids constantly attack everyone around them based on anger, fear, loss of control, and a warped sense of masculinity. They are so intent on protecting themselves from any contact with outsiders that they deride everything before someone else does so. Their anger is seen as their strength which they hold onto just like many young individuals invariably do We see little personality in them; however we get a much better feel for who the grown-ups are involved in the trip.

But the film is even less capable of tying it to Townsend’s clumsily fitted in back story. We see this in flashbacks where his dad attacks and blows him up for having muscular and heart related problems. Townsend repeatedly receives collect calls from jail. His brother calling from prison begs him to go and visit their father who has been admitted into hospice care . It could be he insists on the journey as a result of having an opportunity to decline something. Finally, when he manages to talk to him over the phone, his father is too sick to answer. Will Townsend stay on the journey? Will they finish as a team? Will they complete it? 

This movie doesn’t have that kind that gives you unexpected answers for these; yet it tries hard towards its end by adding suspense. But like the guys on vacation we are compelled by nothing more than the grandeur and beauty of nature coupled with grownups who can still imagine better lives for teenagers when most others have given up hope.

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