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Movie Review : The Lords of Dogtown

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This weekend I rented The Lords of Dogtown. It is a film adaptation telling the story of the Z-boys, the Zephyr team. The Z-boys are skaters that revolutionized skateboarding into the insane sport that it has become today. I’ll admit that other than knowing who Tony Hawk is, I know nothing of skateboarding. To me it’s a mini-surfboard with wheels. But I can truly respect what skaters accomplish with the board. I think it’s fantastic and has many Zen-like qualities to it.

I’ll also note that I’ve seen Dogtown and Z-Boys a few times on the Documentary Channel and found it to be one of the great docs about sub-cultures. And it’s obvious the Z-boys were a big part in creating the punk/skater culture. Once oil-based wheels came in, these guys went nuts and took to surfing the concrete waves of urban Santa Monica, something that had never been thought of. The basically evolved the sport.

The movie adaptation of the doc is so-so with a bunch of unknown actors playing the Z-boys but they are surrounded by better known actors, such as Heath Ledger playing hippy-up-and-coming-yuppie Skip, and Rebecca De Mornay playing, and very well does she play it, the junkie mother of one of the boys. The movie focuses more on the dissolution of the team than on the sub-culture they created. The director preferred to show the deterioration of inner city kids as they aim for the big time. The boys quickly achieve fame, fortune and women but just as quickly they begin to self destruct. Not much more needs be said about the movie. Skaters know the story; the non-initiated will need to see it or its superior documentary to get it all in.

The movie isn’t that good, in my humble opinion, with the exception of the final scene where the Z-boys are reunited despite all that keeps them apart, for their dying team mate. The scene was beautiful and with the cover of Wish You Were Here playing in the background, the movie finally had feelings, but it was too late. The movie was over. Overall it was kind of choppy, cut-and-pasty and not very coherent.

There is a cameo by Tony Hawk. He plays an astronaut doing a photo-op with Stacy Peralta. He tries to use a skateboard and falls flat on his ass which provides for a laugh. It’s the moon boots stupid.

The soundtrack is filled with 70s classics of rock and much too much of the score is orchestrated Pink Floyd music. It’s obvious that director Catherine Hardwicke sports some mahogany for the Pink Floyd.

The cinematography is pretty good with some fantastic beach scenery, surfing and skating scenes. But nothing outstanding.

If you want a movie about skating, go ahead. If you want to know about the Zephyr team, rent the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, it’s far superior.

I didn’t like it but I didn’t hate it either so I give it an average 3 outta 5.

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About David Desjardins

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