Go For It, produced by surf filmmaker Hal Jepsen and retired NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain, was released in 1976. "Action sports" was not yet the term of choice, but Go For It touched almost all the bases as it focused on surfing, skiing, climbing, skateboarding, climbing and hang-gliding. The idea was to produce an Endless Summer-like mainstream hit, but things did not work out that way. Here is a selection of Go For It reviews, which ranged from lukewarm to brutal, and helped steer the film to an early money-losing close.
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"THE ATHLETES SAIL, THE MOVIE DRAGS," Detroit Free Press
The people In “Go for It" sail along on wheels, wings, boards and skis, but the picture is strictly pedestrian. “Go for It," a piecemeal documentary on surfboarding and skateboarding, with bits on skiing and mountain-climbing thrown in to reach feature-film running time, looks like it was put together in a meat grinder. Sequences with no relation to each other in terms of sport, personnel or location jostle about on the big screen. Most of them are backed by rock music of the nondescript variety piped into the jeans boutiques of department stores.
Occasionally, a mellow-voiced narrator Interrupts the music to pontificate ‘‘Today," he advises, “many people have learned to guide their own motions into the harmony that nature provides.” The camera then cuts from swimming fish to an expert Hawaiian-born surfer who puts the matter somewhat more plainly: “I can’t really explain what surfing does for me; I just like it.”
Although the sports look like fun, especially the skateboarding, the movie itself, with its jump-cuts and virtually nonstop slow-motion footage, with its banal music and windbag narration, is a drag. Its high point as entertainment occurs when the narrator introduces one professional surfer by directing our attention to his "graceful backside approach."
From the credits, it looks like ex-basketballer Wilt Chamberlain put up the money for the picture; it may just force him back to the court to recoup.
"'GO FOR IT' STARS SURF AND SKATE," Los Angeles Times
"Go for It" (citywide) is an arrogant and exploitative ode to adventure. The dazzlingly filmed documentary about skateboarding, surfing, hang gliding and other high-risk sports is a cakewalk for cultists but redundant for regular movie audiences.
The film contains glorious fugal footage of surfing at Waimea, hang gliding and skateboarding in Malibu, mountain climbing in the Rockies and skiing in the Caribou Mountains.
Surfing scenes show the inevitable wipeouts, long tube rides and comparisons in technique between aggressive Australian Shaun Tomson and the stylish Hawaian Larry Bertlemen.
Mostly, the film concentrates on skateboarding, with sequences at the California State Skateboard Contest, on the 11th floor of an empty parking lot, or skaters skimming the rims of empty swimming pools.
The script by Neil Rapp tries to incorporate a heady psychological analogy between permissive modern society and the inherent death risk motivating these sportsmen but fails to substantiate its premise by providing any additional insight other than the age-old adage that a mountain climber climbs a mountain because it's there.
The nature of the material is extremely repetitious, but director Paul Rapp maintains high-speed unabated enthusiasm and reverence throughout.
Rick Robertson's and Pat Dafren's daring cinematography captures the thrills and spills from every conceivable angle and Dennis Dragon's raucous rock music reflects the movie: "Whatever happens, happens; don't take anything seriously." The film does just that. Since it provides neither the homespun novelty of Bruce Brown's "Endless Summer" nor a dramatized exploration of a surfers psyche, the movie is ultimately a shrill type made by supercraftsmen and shrewd promoters for those who are already a little in love with death and impossible dreams.
"SURFING FILM IS A WIPEOUT," Myrtle Beach Sun-News
"Go For It" looks like two hours worth of Jack Perkins' "Wild Kingdom" reports on how goofy California is. Another way to look at it is, it’s what Wilt Chamberlain has done with some of the money he got for being a very tall person all those years. Wilt's the executive producer. We start by looking at some standard surf footage. If you saw Bruce Brown’s surfing classic "Endless Summer," you need not attend "Go For It." Brown's camera techniques and more importantly his unifying thematic idea of the romantic quest for the perfect wave have been left out of Wilt's movie. About as close as we come is a statement by Hawaiian surfer Larry Bertetman, who unburdens himself thus: "While you’re setting yourself up for a tube, time, like, stands still."
Then there are shots of the philosopher himself locked into a few tall ones at Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline.
Surf footage has been so overexposed on television that writer-director team Neil and Paul Rapp have to go elsewhere for new thrills. So we visit the Escondido Reservoir, a lovely expanse of sloping pavement upon which the urban surf crowd cavorts on skateboards. The footage is fairly standard stuff. There are some spectacular wipeouts here, as in the surf footage, so kids don’t let your mom come to the show with you or she'll never buy you that board you want for Christmas.
Moving right along we come to ski footage. People dressed in nylon hot-dogger outfits doing stunt-skiing at Vail. Several women skiers in tight nylon outfits. You probably saw it all on ABC's "Wide World of Sports,” same as I did.
Then we get some shots of hang gliding, then a bit of river-running footage from an inflatable raft, the kind Teddy Kennedy likes to travel on in Colorado. There's even a two-minute segment on rock climbing showing a lissome female climber belaying a somewhat nervous-looking leader on a Class-4 wall in Yosemite.
By now we're about 45 minutes Into the film. What happens next? Don't Californians race surfboards with 100-horse outboards on the back? Don’t they have jet unicycles or rocket rollerskates or maybe Offenhauser-powered skateboard dragsters? Apparently not yet, because what we get for the second half of the film is more of the same, with emphasis on side effects like wipeouts, beautiful girls with no tops on, and tacky color-tinted shots of, like, a purple sunset or a green dawn.
Larry Bertelman concludes the film with another bit of West Coast ontology. “My philosophy is don't take anything seriously," he says. "Just go for it."