Halfway through the first part of Warren Miller's new ski flick, Ticket to Ride, my seven year-old daughter Sage leaned over and whispered, "Momma, will you let me miss a couple of days of school this winter so I can ski with you?" I smiled proudly, my heart tickled. I said, "Of course I will."
Warren Miller comes through again. I didn't really expect it from Sage…yet. In fact, just before we went into the screening at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, she asked if she could play around in the lobby if she was bored.
Bringing on the stoke of the season, Warren Miller traditionally inspires people of all ages to dream of those epic days where they come down with the powder flu to miss work and school; where they buy that ticket to ride.
But was it Sage's age that made the difference or did the vibe of this new installment change from past years? Sage has been to a WM screening ever season since she was born. And she has fidgeted, whined, complained, and slept through each film until now. I gotta say, Ticket to Ride reminded me more of that light-hearted, playful epitome of skiing that WM used to be before his son took over the biz. There was well-placed humor (thank God they dropped that stupid Yeti idea from last season) and even added a sequence that was a throwback to the old Miller flicks with classic crash footages and old Warren narrating. Sage was laughing with glee. She loved the ninjas and the soothsayer on the mountain too. These were a bit out there for me but when ski porn runs two hours (inc. intermission) you need silly stuff for the kiddos. You also need more scenes with kids in them, WM. Just saying.
Anyway, back to the movie itself. It was more fun than it has been since Jonny Mosely first came on board to narrate (2008). He's still narrating but the writing and the delivery are better.
We got to see the athletes as people and characters while they visited places like the Alaskan Tordrillos, Switzerland's Jungfrau, Iceland's Troll Peninsula, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Montana. Intense segments like Chris Davenport skiing the West face of the Eiger and JT Holmes speed flying off massive cliffs drew you out of that "ho-hum it's another jibfest" mentality.
There were no scenes from Utah's backcountry and the stuff from Aspen and Mammoth went by as a rapid afterthought. The only true lower 48 showing came from Montana. My biggest criticism of these 21st-century WM films is the failure to label athletes and places. I get that this type of filmmaking is pay-to-play and if the payment comes from the state rather than the resort they won't call out any particular areas but that does the audience a disservice. I want to know WHERE those skiers are- even if it's the backside of Big Sky, out of bounds. I also want to know who is who. The athletes are always introduced in some random clip before they start skiing and once the skiing starts they all look alike. I waste the entire segment trying to figure out if that's Sierra Quitiquit or Julia Mancuso by the clothes they're wearing.
If you don't really care, then you're in luck. There's an adequate mix of big mountain skiing, park and rail riding, humor and tree shots in Ticket to Ride to get the heart engaged and psyched for missing a day or two of school this winter.