Lords Of Dogtown

Lords Of Dogtown


Reviewed by: David Stanners

From Dogtown, Santa Monica, emerged a gifted group of teenagers, who pioneered the skateboard craze of the Seventies and helped build the foundations of the professional sport today.

Lords Of Dogtown is pretty much a fictionalised account of the documentary Dogtown And Z-Boys (2001), charting the rise of four working-class Californian kids. Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Jay (Emile Hirsch) Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), and Sid (Michael Angarano) are all from the wrong side of the tracks - some with long hair, some with attitude, but all with a love of skating. Cars, trucks, crates and empty swimming pools are their friends, utilized for tricks. Owners and cops are the enemy. "Man," "dude" and "awesome" punctuate every sentence to do with chicks, boards, surfing or skating.

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Every coastal town in the Seventies needed a surf shop and Skip (Heath Ledger) manages theirs. A thirtysomething boozing stoner, he sees potential for a waning business and tries to harness the boys' talents into a proper competitive skateboard unit. Providing small-time sponsorship, tee shirts and cheap boards, he gets team Zephyr started on the competitive circuits. Very soon the boys are blowing away the opposition with their unprecedented dare-devilling tricks, hauling in the babes and rubbing shoulders with big buck sponsors.

A lot has been made of the Z-Boys' contribution to the sport. Their zest for original tricks and methods are well documented, particularly breaking into people's backyards to skate the banks of their swimming pools, which are curiously empty in the height of summer.

The narrative pushes along at a reasonable pace, with sub plots involving giggly girls and the usual teenage parties, but only really picks up when the boys start becoming famous, which makes and breaks their future careers. While Peralta does things the right way, reaping the benefits of his legendary skateboard company Powell Peralta, Alva gets sucked into the cowboy sponsor game of flash limos, trophy women and bling. Needless to say he's taken for one ride too many and pays the price a few times, before future success as world champion. Life also deals a vicious blow to Sid, while Jay plays the carefree purist, skating for himself alone.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) has a strong track record in dealing with teenage attitudes. Much is probably contrived about the young lives of the Z-Boys, but what is important is the general spirit of the film, which is a celebration of kids who from nothing create something great with little more than raw talent and desire.

Although less informative than Dogtown And Z-Boys, the ending is fitting and their legacy is one for skateboard enthusiasts everywhere.

Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2005
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A group of talented teenagers from California kick start the skateboarding craze.
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Read more Lords Of Dogtown reviews:

Josh Morrall ***

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Writer: Stacy Peralta

Starring: John Robinson, Emile Hirsch, Rebecca De Mornay, Victor Rasuk, Heath Ledger, Michael Angarano

Year: 2005

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/Germany


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If you like this, try:

Dogtown And Z-Boys
Riding Giants