Throwback Thursday: “Brink!” or How Mel Gibson Ruined My Senior Year

In the 90s and early 00s, the Disney Channel was absolutely killing it with awesome original movies but none were quite as amazing as 1998’s “Brink!”

If you didn't love Erik von Detten, you're lying to yourself.
If you didn’t love Erik von Detten, you’re lying to yourself.

Warning: this post contains spoilers for a movie that was released 17 years ago.
For those of you with terrible memories or who actually played outside as a kid instead of watching movies all day, “Brink!” is about  Andy “Brink” Brinker and his friends who all love to rollerblade because rollerblading in awesome. Brink and his friends call themselves the Soul Skaters because they skate for love, not money like those corporate sellouts. But then Brink’s family falls under financial hardship when his dad is injured so Brink secretly joins the rival Team X-Bladz for extra cash. His friends are appalled when they learn that Brink is getting paid to do what he loves to help his family like a selfish bastard.


The Soul Skaters and Team X-Bladz challenge each other to a downhill race to find out what’s more important, friendship or money to support your family when your father is on disability. Val, the head of Team X-Bladz, throws gravel on the road to injure the token female (and Latina!) skater.

To be fair, they should've seen it coming. This is not the face of a stable human being.
To be fair, they should’ve seen it coming.
This is not the face of a stable human being.

Despite knowing that Val is the one who sabotaged the race, Brink’s friends disown him because friendship is shallow and fleeting in high school. Brink’s dad has a heart to heart with him and tells Brink that he doesn’t have to hang out with sadistic douchebags who hurt his friends just because money is tight at their house.

"Jesus Christ, kid, I feel like this should be common sense stuff."
“Jesus Christ, kid, I feel like this is common sense stuff.”

Brink quits Team X-Bladz and eventually his friends forgive him. There’s a big final showdown between Team X-Bladz and the Soul Skaters (renamed Team Pup ‘N Suds to reflect their new sponsorship because apparently skating for money is okay as long as it’s less money). The final matchup is between Brink and the evil Val and of course, Brink wins because . . . well, because it’s a Disney Channel movie.

The dance moves improved by the time they made “High School Musical.”

This is arguably one of the best Disney Channel original movies to ever be made and I’m sure you’re wondering whatever happened to Erik von Detten, the actor that played Brink. Even if you’re not, I’m going to tell you anyway because Brink came to my high school and it ruined my childhood.

Seriously, I can't even enjoy this stupid movie anymore.
Seriously, I can’t even enjoy this stupid movie anymore.

In 2004, there was a new TV show called “Complete Savages” and it was produced by Mel Gibson.

For a frame of reference, this was post-"Passion of the Christ" but pre-"sugar tits" incident.
For a frame of reference, this was post-“Passion of the Christ” but pre-“sugar tits” incident.

The premise of “Complete Savages” was about a single dad raising five unruly (dare I say, savage?) sons and Erik von Detten played the second eldest. Never heard of the show? Don’t worry, no one else did either and it was cancelled after just one season due to low ratings.

Apparently there was a dog? I don't know, I never watched it.
Apparently there was a dog?
I don’t know, I never watched it.

Anyway, as part of a promotional campaign to promote the show before the premiere, Mel Gibson handpicked a few schools across the country for the five actors who played the sons to visit and give motivational “stay in school!” speeches and he picked mine. While this is a great idea in theory, my school wasn’t really in need of such a speech. I attended Xavier College Preparatory, a private, all-girls parochial school in Phoenix, Arizona. The dropout rate is pretty much nonexistent and it’s a pretty prestigious school with famous alumnae like Emma Stone, Aidy Bryant, and Meghan McCain. It’s also hyper-competitive and the running joke was always that a student would get 100% on a test and be jealous of the girl next to her who got 102%. It was some hardcore shit.

This is a photo of my friend, Jen (L), and me (R) during our senior year of high school. Don't let the uniform or the smiles fool you, we had a knife fight over physics notes immediately after this photo was taken.
This is a photo of my friend, Jen (L), and me (R) during our senior year of high school.
Don’t let the uniform or the smiles fool you, we had a knife fight over physics notes immediately after this photo was taken.

We knew we were picked because we were an all-girls school but frankly, no one cared because we really wanted to meet Brink. For days leading up to the assembly, we all talked excitedly about our favorite “Brink!” moments and tried to figure out who had had more Tiger Beat pictures of Erik von Detten on their bedroom walls.

Greasy hair was super hot in the late 90s.
Long, greasy hair was super hot in the late 90s.

And then we had the assembly.

The point of this visit was ostensibly to encourage us to stay in school. As it turns out, only one of the actors actually graduated high school and went to college (Shaun Sipos, the oldest). The rest of them, Erik von Detten included, were (obviously) child actors and had been educated by tutors on various TV and movie sets. Their presence at our school continued to not make sense but we still didn’t care–we were going to get to ask them questions and pretty much everyone had a question ready for Brink.

As it turns out, Erik von Detten was very lucky that he already had a marketable skill because the dude was dumber than a box of hair.

As the assembly continued, we all just kind of looked at each other as we realized exactly how stupid our childhood crush was. Sure, he was still kind of cute, but his hair was still greasy (definitely not as cute in 2004 as it was in 1998) and none of us could really get past how confused he seemed by basic questions and how he was unable to string together a grammatically correct sentence. Were he not an actor, he seemed like the kind of guy who would indefinitely live at his parents’ house with an idea for a t-shirt company that would never really come to fruition.

We all left the assembly a little depressed at learning that Brink was, in fact, dumb. However, he did end up being a great motivator to keep us in school because we were all suddenly terrified that if we dropped out, we’d end up as dumb as Erik von Detten. He ended up becoming a running joke at our school to the point where he made it into our final edition of our school’s newspaper for the year. Unfortunately I don’t still have my copy but it featured a prominent photo of Erik von Detten and his castmates with the caption “Stay in school,” which felt both hilarious and vaguely threatening.

Maybe you should’ve read a book.

And that’s how Mel Gibson ruined my senior year of high school.

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