Where the Trail Ends

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Where the Trail Ends Movie Poster Image
Thrilling doc glorifies freeriding; some language and peril.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Where the Trail Ends promotes positive messages about extreme sports, the thrill of performance, achieving excellence in sporting, pushing yourself to higher standards, and the intrinsic value of excellence at a competitive endeavor. There's also a positive appreciation for other cultures.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The documentary focuses on freeride mountain bikers, who are portrayed as enthusiastic participants in the sport and adrenaline junkies constantly challenging themselves, and they're respectful of the other cultures they visit in the search for new terrain. They care about doing well, pushing themselves, and pursuing the sport fairly responsibly (given the innately perilous nature of the activity) in terms of risk to their bodies and health. They also relish the "gnarly" terrain and the thrill of new heights. 

Violence

The documentary shows a consistent level of peril in terms of the riskiness these riders face in desert temperatures, rough terrain, or injuries sustained from wiping out after attempting high or dangerous jumps. There are lots of drops from high altitudes and over a dozen scuffles or wipeouts that leave riders injured. One injury shows a close-up of a rider with a severely scraped abdomen and buttocks, bleeding and with raw, exposed skin. Otherwise riders mostly are shown having wiped out with difficulty breathing, going to hospitals to get X-rays for sprains, and limping to recovery.

Sex
Language

Some mild and occasionally severe profanity throughout, such as "ass, "dammit," "goddammit," "s--t, "f--kin' sucks," "I f--kin' hate this," and so on.

Consumerism

Red Bull is a consistent presence in the film on helmets, stickers, and posters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Three guys toast what look like bottles of beer in a celebratory moment.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Where the Trail Ends is a documentary about freeriding on mountain bikes in dangerous, unknown terrain. It features well-known athletes of the extreme sport seeking out new, virgin landscapes to attempt high jumps, flips, and maneuvers all over the world. There is some profanity throughout (including "s--t" and "f--k") and over a dozen wipeouts that lead to varying degrees of injury (mostly ultimately harmless). It shows a deep passion for freeriding and pursuing excellence in competition and athleticism, but it also glorifies a very high-risk sport in what is likely a short-lived career.

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What's the story?

This documentary on the thrill of freeriding on rough terrain takes a slew of notables in the sport, such as Darren Berrecloth, Kurt Sorge, and James Doerfling, all from their home in Utah to Argentina and rural China in search of the newest, most challenging new landscapes to master.

Is it any good?

WHERE THE TRAIL ENDS is a thrill to watch. It's shot with the incredible clarity of a nature documentary and uses a prominent, often high-octane soundtrack as a backdrop to what can only be described as epic jumps, twists, and flips. The athletes begin in Utah, where they've lost that loving feeling for the challenge of new terrain, and travel the world over to find fresh, often virgin patches of land reached only by helicopter to bike across. There's a lifestyle element here that's glorified, though: These are twentysomething men stoked on gnarly jumps, and although they're jazzed to see new cultures and peoples, their main fix is the adrenaline of new mountains and cliffs and outcroppings on which to test their mettle -- what someone in the doc calls the "dirt, the drops, and the hospitals" that distinguish one place from the next. They wipe out a lot but always get up. Although this is a real visual pleasure, viewers will not learn much about China or Argentina or Utah that can't be determined by the dustiness of the mountain soil. There's a bit of glorifying of the sport -- it's incredible that many of these athletes come off unscathed from terrifying altitudes -- so parents may wish to temper the awesome stunts against the real riskiness to life and limb it engenders.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the danger in freeriding. What do you think is the sport's biggest risk?

  • What do you think draws people to extreme sports? Have you ever tried any extreme sports? Why, or why not? If so, what was it like?

  • What were the athletes' attitudes toward other cultures? Did they seem interested in learning about the people or merely the terrain?

Movie details

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