Stuck in First Gear
In a strange way TV movie "The Circuit" reminds me of many a 50s western. No I don't mean that this racing movie has a western storyline but that it feels like a movie which was made purely to give people something to do. I say that because this racing drama wheels out not just a variety of car movie cliches but then adds to that with a lot of estranged father daughter cliches. And all that means is that from the word go "The Circuit" is never more that predictable and cheesy to the point that there are scenes which make you groan.
Kylie Shines (Michelle Trachtenberg - Inspector Gadget) has father issues, well who wouldn't when their father is Al Shines (Billy Campbell) stock car legend who has never been there for her even when her mother died. But despite resenting her father it didn't stop Kylie from following in his footsteps, not only by becoming a stock car driver but also getting his slot on Team Cates when owner Robin Cates (Paul Rae - Daddy Day Camp) decides to let Al go after a poor season. It brings Kylie into direct competition with hot young superstar Kid Walker (Drew Fuller) who turns on the charm off the track and speed on it. But for Cates all he can spot is a goldmine if he can pull off the race of the century Kid Vs Kylie Vs Al.
The first thing which strikes you about "The Circuit" is a bit of bad casting and sadly I mean Michelle Trachtenberg as Kylie. This is nothing against Trachtenberg because she can act but she doesn't look like a racing car driver and when we see her carrying trophies which are taller than herself it looks comically wrong. It is a shame because whilst the character of Kylie is a cliche Trachtenberg does the best she can with her but physically looks wrong.
It means that right from the out "The Circuit" is on an uphill struggle and then it starts churning out the cliches. First we have the animosity between Kylie and her father who has never been there for her, then there is businessman Robin Cates who is just looking for the publicity angle of giving Kylie a team position. Add to this the cliche character of Kid, hot young racing driver that girls go mad for and then there is the long time friend and mechanic Jake who secretly fancies her. I could go on because "The Circuit" is full of cliche with even more cliche action to make it rather obvious.
As such "The Circuit" sort of plays out in front of your eyes whilst you take none of it in because it has all been done before. The only time it grabs your attention is when it goes from ordinary to cheesy be it a terrible slow motion shot or when a crowd in a bar gather around Al and Kylie as they battle it out on the pool table. It means if you remember "The Circuit" for anything it will be for what is wrong about it because it is the only thing which stands out.
What this all boils down to is that "The Circuit" is truthfully not a good movie and is just a collection of cliches, racing cliches combined with those of a strained father and daughter relationship. It's ordinary rather than terrible but it is the cheesy moments which end up being the only thing which is memorable about it.