Netflix DVD – they rated it as a 4.4 for me, with the general audience giving it a 4.0. I gave it 5 stars, it was one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, up there with Senna, which was also created with archival footage. I watched it again the next morning and it was just as good the second time.
Kevin Pearce was a top snowboarder, an Olympic contender, right up there with the much more famous Shaun White, and the movie starts off with the spectacular imagery of high-level half-pipe riding. They talk a lot about the added risk that has come with extending the half-pipe walls to 22 feet. This makes the tricks more spectacular, but it has produced many casualties, including Kevin Pearce. While the movie spends time showing the spectacular images of the sport, much more time is spent with the incredible Pearce family, who are in large part responsible for bringing Kevin back as far as he has come from his TBI (traumatic brain injury). His Dad is a well-known glassblower, and his Mom is a patient, kind, thoughtful person with a deep love for all of her four boys. One of those boys, David, has Down’s Syndrome and this provides a very real connection to what Kevin goes through as he comes back from his brain injury. David is quite articulate and caring, as is another brother, Adam, who quits his job to help Kevin through his rehabilitation. The whole family is caring, patient, and just all-around wonderful. The emotional connection you will feel with them is what makes this movie the gem that it is.
They show several athletes who have had TBI’s and continue to do their high-risk activities and suffer an additional, sometimes more than one, TBI. The movie explores why people are driven to continue their sports even with a now dramatically higher consequence – potentially a fatal consequence. It seems that they remain driven just as they were before the injury, without the realization that the risk has skyrocketed. You will see how Kevin handles this if you watch this movie, and I highly recommend that you do.