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'Nitro Circus the Movie' review: It's so stupid

Scene from

Scene from "Nitro Circus : The Movie 3D" In theaters on August 8, 2012. Credit: ARC Entertainment

The stunt athletes in the traveling Nitro Circus collective wear mental deficiency as a badge of honor. "This is so stupid," they'll say before flipping a race car into the air or pedaling a modified tricycle off the roof of a high rise. It's false modesty, of course: What they're really doing is drawing attention to their bravery and machismo.

Whether you buy this double meaning or just take the guys at their word, "Nitro Circus the Movie 3D," a self-made infomercial for the group's live touring show, is a tedious ride. Directed and co-produced by teammates Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle, it's basically 10 minutes of stunts with 70 minutes of replays, though that isn't the main problem. The personalities on screen have such limited shticks, such one-dimensional ideas, that they're no fun to hang out with.

The Nitro guys literally knock themselves out trying to be as cool as the "Jackass" crew (both had shows on MTV), but none of them has the low-rent bonhomie of a Steve-O or a Johnny Knoxville (who graciously makes an appearance). Nitro leader Travis Pastrana has one routine: Strap some doomed dupe into a vehicle, give a mocking thumbs-up to the camera, then come back and show the bungler how it's really done. This persona starts to rankle when Pastrana's buddies suffer real injuries. Tommy Passemante, an eager-to-please amateur and the group's "funny fat guy," openly weeps after being dragged bodily up a ramp by a motorcycle-powered winch.

The film's one impressive figure is Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, an extreme wheelchair athlete whose 50-foot ramp jump is a genuine nail-biter. But the Nitro guys are barely interested in him, or even in their token babe, Jolene Van Vugt, routinely sidelined. Mostly they want to prove how "stupid" they are. You can define that word whichever way you like.

PLOT An inside look at a traveling action-sports troupe

CAST Travis Pastrana, Tommy Passemante, Aaron Fotheringham


PLAYING AT Area theaters

BOTTOM LINE Ten minutes of stunts, plus 70 minutes of replays. Who knew diving off high-rises could be so tedious?

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