This coming-of-age tale just doesn't work. North Hollywood feels as if it's been pasted together with a series of afterthoughts, as if writer-director Mikey Alfred, working from autobiographical material, didn't recognize the plot's gaping holes until after all the scenes were shot. Alfred has the potential to be a skilled filmmaker and writer, but he isn't there yet. So this may have lots of appeal for the skateboarding community, but it misses the opportunity to be feel more universal. Coming-of-age stories usually showcase a sympathetic lead character's baseline immaturities, then show gradual behavior corrections, leaving us with hope for the character's growth. There's much to relate to here for any kid who has a passion and who feels misunderstood by parents. But where's he growth? How much more affecting this would be if that were shown. We understand a son who repeatedly lies to his overbearing father, but he lies to his best friends, too, making Michael increasingly difficult to root for. And the more he lies, the less reason we're given to believe he values his old friendships.
So late in the action, when we are suddenly told how important one friend is, it comes as a shock. Also, everything about Michael's college application activities seem far too vague for an overbearing father not to notice. Somehow other kids know where they're going to school, but Michael is still pretending to be working on his applications. Then he claims he's been wait-listed at several colleges, without filing applications? Surely his dad would put all of these contradictions together. Most puzzling of all is that skateboard footage doesn't make Michael look like a better skateboarder than you can find at any urban park in America. What exactly about his skills catches the eye of the local pros? And when his board cracks and he's caught stealing a new one, what happens after? We see him skateboarding later. Where did he get the new board? The final inexplicable moment comes when a blustery dad shows sudden stores of empathy and understanding out of nowhere. The closing scene shows the kid, who has told his dad he's leaving home for a skateboarding life, gliding through an upscale suburban street. What's the message? No clue.