Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Written by: Stacy Peralta
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Heath Ledger, John Robinson, Johnny Knoxville, Rebecca De Mornay, Victor Rasuk, William Mapother
LORDS OF DOGTOWN (2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Three talented teenage friends, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Jay Adams, are signed up to local surf shack Zephyr’s skateboarding team. Applying their skills on a surfboard to a skateboard, the boys mesmerise and transform the skateboarding world. With sponsors and teams knocking on their door and the promise of fame and big money, will their friendship survive?
Written by skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta, LORDS OF DOGTOWN is an biographical movie chronicling the life of Stacy and his friends and the revolution of skateboarding in the 70’s of which they were an important part of. Though fictionalised to an extent to provide dramatic entertainment, the film is an effective coming-of-age story as well as a story of friendship intertwined with groundbreaking moments in skateboarding history.
LORDS OF DOGTOWN begins as a surfing movie, where friends Tony, Stacy and Jay are lookouts for their older friends at the local pier, defending their turf from any outsiders attempting to surf their waves. When Skip, owner of Zephyr Surf Shop in Venice, CA, receives polyurethane wheels to use on the skateboards, the young lads are quick to try them out. With the PU wheels a much grippier material, the lads are able to perform tricks and control their skateboards unlike ever seen before. Their impressive skills convince Skip to start a skate team – the Z-Boys. Entering competitions, they quickly make a name for themselves winning many events with their unorthadox low-riding style, taken directly from surfing. With buckets of attitude, both on and off the competition circuit, it’s not hard to see why people would sit up and take notice of these youngsters.
When the government imposes a pool ban due to a drought, the Z-Boys take advantage of the empty pools to practice their tricks in. Having only used flat surfaces prior, the pools open up the possibilities of skateboarding, in particular skating vertically. This makes for a humorous segment where the guys are peeping over fences and sitting on roofs and hills with binoculars looking for empty back-garden pools or ones to drain and skate. Watching this, I wondered where skateboarding would be today if there hadn’t been a drought back in the day. Would pools still have been utilised in this way? These guys were definitely pioneers of the skateboarding we see today.
As a movie, LORDS OF DOGTOWN works pretty well though it has all the hallmarks of a dramatic friendship film: close friends united by skateboarding are tore apart by it once fame and fortune come into play and most lose sight of what they once loved about it. The thing is, can the passion for skateboarding and the old friendship be rekindled? For the majority of the movie, the boys come off as the immature lads they are. We see them transition into young men, though not completely mature, they seem to have a learned a few lessons along the way. Stars Victor Rasuk (Tony), Emile Hirsch (Jay) and John Robinson (Stacy) all perform their parts beautifully and with that teenage attitude you’d expect from a group of testosterone-fuelled, extreme sport-loving boys. The late Heath Ledger also captivates as Zephyr Surf Shop owner Skip, a man who kind of knows what he wants out of life but isn’t the most academically or business minded to attain it.
Lords of Dogtown is a bit like Point Break (no, not the shitty remake, the original) in that it manages to capture the sports scene as well as balance it out with a story you can invest in. Certainly, skateboarding fans may find this film and its roots in skateboarding history more interesting than someone who isn’t but the film as a whole will appeal to movie fans regardless.
Eureka Entertainment have released Lords of Dogtown on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD. The Blu-Ray features a high definition presentation, though the footage retains it’s vintage style to look as though shot in the 70’s, and is stacked with special features including an introduction by the director in which she discusses the film as being uncensored (this version does indeed contain Jay’s “grey beaver” comment), cast commentary and making of featurettes to name but a few.
Lords of Dogtown is more than just a sports drama movie. It’s an entertaining, exhilarating piece of cinema that seeks to educate the viewer on the history of skateboarding and will have you YouTubing old videos of Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta all night long.