Lords of Dogtown

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Skateboarding is born in Venice, California in the mid-1970s when local teenagers swap surf for tarmac. But sponsorship deals and international fame drive a wedge between former friends who are in danger of losing sight of their sport’s rebellious roots.


Hot on the wheels of skateboarding documentary Dogtown And Z-Boys comes Hollywood’s fictional version of the same true story – a reflection of a reflection of reality. Is that a ‘360 Kickflip’ too many for the judges? No, because, if anything, Lords Of Dogtown gives a more vivid impression of what it must have been like to hang out with the coolest kids on the block.

As an insider from the original Zephyr Team, Stacy Peralta was in prime position to source matchless archive footage and one-on-one interviews for his documentary. Peralta’s screenplay credit guarantees authenticity here, but Catherine Hardwicke – director of Thirteen – plays to different strengths, emphasising mood, drama and acting. In her hands, Heath Ledger delivers his first truly adult performance as burnt-out hippie Skip Engblom, while Emile Hersch nudges the young ensemble cast into deeper and darker emotional territory as troubled skater Jay Adams.

Anyone less than overwhelmed by the documentary will think they’ve been here before: the skating tricks become repetitive and again the soundtrack is an iPod shuffle of 70s rock (stick around for Sparklehorse’s cover of ‘Wish You Were Here’ on the closing credits). Fans, however, will discover that the original’s history of the sport has been fleshed out with a focus on the people and their problems.

A hanging-out movie that’s as close as you’ll ever get to soaking up the time, the place and the attitude. Too slack for mainstream audiences, though.