Lords Of Dogtown

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Movie Review by Almiro Jorge

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, John Robinson, Michael Angarano, Nikki Reed
Director: Catherine Hardwicke

The best skateboarding film ever made!

Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, Jay Adams…It has been the strongest nostalgic feeling I’ve ever had!

Summer of ’75…
Rushing down to the beach in the early hours of the morning to catch the tide, the group of surfers anticipate the breaking waves on the beach, only to be chased off the rollers by the bigger boys.

Permanently stoned surf shop owner, Skip (Heath Ledger) creates a new skateboard wheel made from polyurethane and takes the boys to the streets to test it. During their day out Skip comes up with the idea of sponsoring the youngsters’ skateboarding team. Incorporating their surf styles into their skateboarding and calling themselves the Z-Boys after the Zephyr label on their sponsored T-Shirts, the boys clean out the trophies at the competitions.

LORDS OF DOGTOWN is a fictional glorification of the creation of modern skateboarding based on true events as they happened in 1975 and as recorded in the award winning documentary DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (2001), which was directed by skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta, who has also scripted this one.

Emile Hirsch stars as Jay Adams, the archetypal modern skateboarder that rides for the love of the game and not the fame. Stacy Peralta is played by John Robinson, the pretty-faced blond boy with long hair in just his third film, two years after starring in Gus van Sant’s ELEPHANT. Victor Rasuk as Tony Alva makes up the rest of the central trio who pioneered modern skateboarding as we know it.

Director, Catherine Hardwicke uses lovely visual style throughout the film and empowers it with music video editing. Sitting in front of the big screen you find time actually going backwards and before long you find yourself in the seventies, so accurate is the director’s beautiful depiction of the era. Unfortunately, but perhaps purposely, the film’s storyline skips along leaving gaps as if part of the drug effects of the time. In addition, the dramatic effect of the film is lacking somewhat and the character portrayal is rather bland.

The performances from the three leads are adequate for the parts but fall short of being great and don’t do justice to the young lads in the flesh, though Emile Hirsch almost brings the real Jay Adams to life with his transformation from the clean cut teen to a skinhead rebel. Standing out with one of his best roles as the constantly stoned and volatile Skip, the almost unrecognisable Heath Ledger does a beautiful impersonation of Val Kilmer and adds some humour to the film.

Getting back to the nostalgia… Is it enough to say that it is a great film?
Definitely not but if you have ever been a skateboarder I recommend this film to simply conjure up those feelings to get a new board, although I must stress that you might feel that the tricks in the film are few and lousy.

If you’re a girl, watch it for the boys. If you’re a parent, watch it to rekindle the feelings or just enjoy the music and if you’re a young skateboarder, watch it and learn about the legends.

4 out of 6 stars