It's a shame that Warner Bros. appeared to have no clue how to properly sell Chris Robinson's film, as evidenced by their ad campaign and the early media coverage. Early press fixated on roller skating, which is part of the film but hardly the focus; the trailers and TV spots suggested violent urban ghetto flick, but the grit and darker shades are not the main concern. Ultimately, this is one of those teen coming-of-age films, and with the eventful time stretch comes the good and the bad, the light and the dark; and with the different characters come the divergent life directions, be it the legit or the criminal, the modest to the extravagant; and with its setting--Atlanta--all the local flavor specific to life there. It's not exactly something that can boiled down to an easy sell, but then that's also part of its appeal and charm. Tip "T.I." Harris acquits himself well in his big acting debut, and the rest of the eager young ensemble (including Jackie Long, Al Daniels, Evan Ross, and Lauren London) deliver.
While Robinson doesn't offer a running commentary track, there is a 28-minute documentary titled "In the Rink--A Director's Journey." While the first few minutes make this featurette appear no different than standard DVD making-of shorts--and, indeed, there is some obvious recycled EPK footage here--but it truly is a succinct yet comprehensive look at, as the title states, the "director's journey." Robinson covers all aspects from casting to scouting to the end of shooting, with some intriguing glimpses from location scouts, screen tests, table reads, and roller skating rehearsals--but most intriguing of all, Robinson's candid insights on his aims with the film, working process, and the transition from music videos to feature projects. Snippets with the cast and other crew also enhance this entertaining and informative look into the production. Rounding out the special features section are five minutes worth of (understandably) deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, and T.I.'s "What You Know" music video.