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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Sean Penn
Jay Adams
Tony Alva
Jim Muir.
Directors
Stacy Peralta.
Screenwriters
Stacy Peralta
Craig Stecyk.
Running Time
90 minutes

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Dogtown and Z Boys
Superb documentary tracing the development of skateboarding


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Plot
In run-down Dogtown, the Zephyr Team skate empty swimming pools after the surf blows out. This documentary traces the development of skateboarding from the early '70s through to the fame, fortune and eventual fall of some of the team's teenage members.


Review
There are those who believe that documentary's place is on the small screen. Dogtown And Z Boys effortlessly proves them wrong – factual movies can be as exciting, slick and accessible as any other species of celluloid.

Stacy Peralta's film is an exuberant, nostalgic paean to a time, place and a lifestyle. A founding member of the Zephyr Team (Z Boys), Peralta traces the history of the skateboard from its early years as a stalled '60s fad, through to his friends' reinvention of it as an extreme sport with marketing deals and corporate sponsorship. Quite a trip for an activity that only began when the inventive beach-bums found themselves with nothing to do when the surf blew out mid-morning.

There's an engaging rebelliousness to the use of California's infrastructure – the towering waves of playground asphalt and the empty swimming pools of the vacationing middle classes – for a purely hedonistic kick. Peralta matches that kinetic creativity with dynamic, imaginative use of his archival material.

His camera hurtles across the still images, while Sean Penn's deadpan narration, complete with coughs and splutters, is perfectly pitched. It's hardly an unbiased film – it concludes with a sell-out to corporate America and the gentrification of Dogtown's once seedy beachfront. But who doesn't re-edit their own history?

What comes across most poignantly in Peralto's minor masterpiece is the sheer joy of being a member of the coolest gang on the beach, as remembered – and embellished – by a generation of fortysomethings for whom, you suspect, life has never been anywhere nearly as good. A genuine must-see.


Verdict
Fantastic. Seventies nostalgists will have a field-day and the rest of us can marvel at a set of kids who were so cool they literally flew. Quite possibly the best documentary about youth and sport since Hoop Dreams.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Dogtown and Z Boys
Empire Star Rating

RE: Cool but....

Seen this recently. An expertly put together documentary, full of verve and excitement, even when it's just photos on screen. Even if you don't like skateboarding, the film captures how brilliant it must have been for these kids to be in the coolest gang in town. Seeing them as grown ups, one gets the impression they were never as cool again. ... More

Posted by MOTH at 09:11, 11 August 2006 | Report This Post


Cool but....

I watched Riding Giants first and after seeing those BIG wave surfers skateboarding, cool as it is, comes off as second best. I have watched enough bits of extreme sports TV to be impressed by those half pipe skating dudes flying throught the air with their boards glued to their trainers. Thus, this doc' didn't grab me for the first half while the kids emulate the surf moves on dry land. It's not until they begin to leave the ground behind with the help of "borrowed" swimming pools th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by giddig at 23:16, 10 August 2006 | Report This Post


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