Forgotten Gems: Frezno Smooth

For lack of a better term, if you are a “core” fan of motocross, you are not only aware of a little film called Frezno Smooth, but you’ve seen Frezno Smooth. Multiple times.

There are the moto movies of the 1990s and early 2000s and then there is Frezno Smooth.

I would argue it is maybe the most controversial motocross movie every made. It is either deeply loved or violently hated by fans and industry figure heads alike. Ironically, it was shot by the beloved Troy Adamitis (The Great Outdoors, Wrath Child, The Moto: Inside the Outdoors, Supercross: Behind the Dream, and MX Nation) to name a few. Exactly how Adamitis found his way into shooting Frezno Smooth, I’ll never know but I have always found it hilariously awesome that he is the name behind the lens for such a controversial piece of motocross filmmaking.

Fox Racing’s Wrath Child as shot my Troy Adamitis.

I believe you can argue that Frezno Smooth may not be a “Forgotten Gem.” It can be considered a cult classic; something that everyone is aware exists but prefers to ignore because of the highly controversial aspects of the film that paint the sport of motocross in a poor light (insert my massive eye roll emoji here).

However, over time, I have come to realize that there are also many fans and industry figures within our pond of dirt bikes that have no knowledge or understanding of this film and the great one liners like, “Loc Dawg don’t ride for no trick ass bitches,” “I’m going straight to Fresno, finding a bar, sit-down and drink some phat ass Jack ‘N Cokes, and be hitting on some filthy, white trash hookers,” “Here, have a sticker,” “I thought you were with that long neck periscope, Jimmy Button?!” and so, so many more amazing one liners.

If this 1999 release ever garnered a rating, I would argue it is a solid “R” considering you watch a disillusioned Mike Metzger make passionate love to a blow up doll in the parking lot of a local bar in Costa Mesa, CA which I have gone to multiple times over the years to see a few punk rock bands play.

You have those Jack ‘N Cokes J-Bone. You’ve earned them.

When we discuss the motocross movies of the ’90s and early ’00s, we always focus on Crusty Demons of Dirt, Terrafirma, Steel Roots, and Moto XXX as the major hitters of that era. However, for me, I’ve always been perplexed as to why Frezno Smooth is never mentioned in the conversation? Perhaps it is because, unlike the Crusty and Steel Roots flicks which focused purely on (for the most part) on bike action, Frezno Smooth really was a fictional, narrative movie.

Nonetheless, it still garnered the familiar faces of the freeriding movies: Jeff Emig, Mike Metzger, Seth Enslow, Rusty, Denny Stephenson, Jimmy Button, Carey Hart, and more. Or, is it viewed as a dark spot in the overall lifespan of our sport/industry that we just want to ignore? Let’s face it, a film like Frezno Smooth will never happen again. At least not in our lifetime.

The riders of today are not fun, banned from having a personality, and if they are not eating a kale salad with dry chicken and their recovery shake how can they possibly win Anaheim 1? Simply put? Our sport lacks the personality and “punk rock” attitude of the 1990s and early 2000s to ever make something like this again. So, for that simple fact, I wish we celebrated this film a little more as a unique moment in our sports history where we had something truly one of a kind.

Though, while doing some further investigating about the film, I learned (via YouTube) that the then “new” experimental parent company to Fox Racing: SHIFT MX, had originally financed Frezno Smooth. The objective was to include both freestyle motocross athletes and also action sports athletes from other disciplines to create an over-the-top movie (mission accomplished) and see what happens. And, by other action sports athletes, they didn’t mean no-name athletes trying to forge a name for themselves. It meant individuals like Tony Hawk, Rob Machado, Tony Alva, Christian Fletcher, Wee-Man, Willy Santos, and more. Oh, and Lemmy (RIP) from Motorhead and Ice T. By the time Frezno Smooth had its first release, the motocross public figured out that SHIFT MX was actually owned by Fox Racing and the investors got cold feet. Thus, they sold the film to the Shooting Gallery who put out 80,000 VHS copies before going bankrupt. A “for charity” DVD came out a few years later. My point? Even back then people didn’t want this movie made. But, we should be forever thankful that Shooting Gallery was able to pick up the pieces and release this film to the public.

The most controversial film in motocross history: Frezno Smooth. Enjoy. Or don’t.

Does Frezno Smooth give the sport of motocross a less than tasteful image? Without question, yes. It sure does. Is Frezno Smooth a true story? Technically, no. While these guys did like to party and show the opposite sex a flattering time, they were by no means this clever and witty. Joking aside, the film is a fictional piece of art. It’s not real. It’s an over-the-top, comedic movie that involves dirt bikes, action sports’ top athletes, in outlandish situations. Sure, it is not for everybody. No movie, no TV show, and no documentary is for everyone. That would be boring and vanilla. Does the movie deserve any of the hate it receives from its own people? My answer? No. If you don’t like something, don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t indulge. But, let’s not chastise something because YOU don’t like it. Different strokes for different folks. Though it’ll never happen because of what I addressed earlier, I would argue our sport could use more of this type of far fetched humor because we could benefit from not taking ourselves so seriously. It’s okay to laugh because, eventually, you’re going to die.

Rob Machado is one of the most iconic surfers in the world. It’s always so funny to see Rob’s character in Frezno Smooth and then watch him in his surf movie 10-years later called, The Drifter, which is absolutely stunning visual film that inspired and influenced so much of my creative perspectives as a filmmaker.

If you haven’t seen Frezno Smooth, I will always recommend you give it at least one watch from start to finish. Make sure the kids are put to sleep, because it is most certainly vulgar. If you have already seen Frezno Smooth, I would be very curious to hear what lines of the film or characters are your favorites?

For me, the dynamic between Jerry Bernardo and Rob Machado handling the field reporting always reduces me to tears. Something about those scenes and how those two play those characters is comedic gold to me.

Also, fun fact! During Jeff Emig’s FMX run, it’s not actually Emig doing those tricks. It was a stunt double by the name of FMX legend, Mike Cinqmars (RIP). And, also, I was in the stands when they filmed that scene as a little kid. I think roughly 11 or 12-years-old at the time. I am pretty sure if you do some serious Matlock work, you can probably find baby Kyle somewhere in those grandstands. So, I guess I can claim I was an extra in thee kind of but also not so forgotten gem that is Frezno Smooth.

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