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Overall Rating
2.96

Awesome: 19.3%
Worth A Look: 24.56%
Average: 17.54%
Pretty Bad: 10.53%
Total Crap28.07%

6 reviews, 21 user ratings


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Lords of Dogtown
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by Scott Weinberg

"If the documentary was dinner, this one's definitely dessert."
3 stars

Yep, skateboarding's cool. Sure, I'll agree that the 1970s were pretty darn wild and exciting (a potentially perfect setting for all sorts of movies), and it's always the case that teenage boys really like to have a crazy good time. So if you mix all three of these components together, you're probably halfway towards making a fairly entertaining film. But if you can't give me some characters worth caring about and a few conflicts that don't feel cribbed from just any old rebel-angst melodrama, then your film's quality is only surface-deep.

I absolutely loved the Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary. Watched it twice in one weekend, actually. That was a movie that introduced me to a sport / hobby / culture (call it what you will) I knew very little about -- and cared about even less. But director Stacy Peralta was able to bring the birth of modern skateboarding to life in a way I found effortlessly intriguing and consistently entertaining.

So when I heard that there was to be a "fictionalized" re-telling of the "Dogtown" story, I was quite excited to check it out. And after seeing Lords of Dogtown, pretty much all I can say is that Stacy Peralta is a better documentarian than he is a screenwriter -- although, to his credit, he is a better storyteller than is Lords director Catherine Hardwicke.

"Dogtown," for those not in the skateboarding "know," is Venice Beach, California, home to lots of serious surfers and shirtless teenaged boys with a whole lot of free time. Many of the younger surfer dudes are forced to "work" the beaches before they're allowed to ride the waves -- but every single one of 'em also owns a skateboard. Plus with these all-new "urethane" wheels that just hit the market, well, let's just say that skateboarding is about to take off as Mega-Cool-Dude Fad #1 across the nation. And it all starts here.

Lords of Dogtown introduces us to a trio of disparate lads: Stacy (as in Peralta) is the soft-spoken and responsible one; Tony is the wild child and Jay is the tortured soul. So when crazy ol' Skip Engblom brings these kids together to form the world's grooviest skate-team, you just know these young fellas are gonna head in extremely divergent directions.

But here's the rub: Ms. Hardwicke gives us no real reason to care. The characters are, for the most part, broadly drawn and drably created. You don't feel any sort of "rooting interest" for any of these kids or way or another, which means that Lords of Dogtown must coast on a purely visceral level -- and the movie does precisely that -- with only a few fumbling dismounts.

Sure, the "board-cam" footage gets pretty old pretty fast, and there's only so many times you can watch a bunch of skate-slackers whizzzz through an empty swimming pool before you start to nod off just a bit -- but Hardwicke also brings an atmospheric gloom and enjoyably grungy haze to the material. The Lords aren't all that compelling, but their exploits are really cool to watch.

Eye-dazzle aside, the only thing saving the movie from total collapse is a pair of memorable performances: Emile Hirsch is, as usual, the anchor of whatever movie he's in, while Heath Ledger (doing his best Val Kilmer-as-Jim Morrison impression) is a lot of good, goofy fun as the perpetually zonked-out Engblom.

Watchable enough, but if you want an exhilarating look back at the exact same folks, I'd just stick with the documentary version. Yet still ... in a sub-genre that boasts films as horrifically abysmal as "Gleaming the Cube," "Thrashin'," and "Grind," "Lords of Dogtown" feels like an absolute Oscar Winner.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12401&reviewer=128
originally posted: 06/03/05 20:54:32
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User Comments

1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
9/21/08 Francesca Would've been enjoyable if I got to see one of these bastards wasted. 3 stars
9/13/06 Spencer This is a great and realistic movie that everyone, skaters or not, can enjoy. 5 stars
8/14/06 Sharon LOVE the movie but not a good johnny knoxville charector AT ALL 5 stars
12/16/05 Danny Some cool skating, but rather dismal otherwise. 3 stars
10/20/05 Tabatha The best Movie ever 5 stars
10/19/05 the_only_blk_guy says: You are Fucking Retards this movies badass! And i didnt like skateboarding, until now. 5 stars
10/11/05 Tom Burns I really enjoyed it. check it out. 4 stars
8/25/05 $KiTTL3$--www.myspace.com/xxcrownoflovexx I thought this movie was really great, and it was better than Grind..Emile i love you 5 stars
8/22/05 ES Long, drawn out. Thought Heath was Val Kilmer for half the movie, overall watchable 3 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Boring and stupid, is that what they were going for? 1 stars
6/29/05 sara this is the best movie i have seen in a long time!!! 5 stars
6/28/05 katie hirsch emile im goin to be in a love scene with u one day 5 stars
6/21/05 John Allen Perralta should be jailed for this screenplay but, he wasn't a z-boy anyway was a z-boy 1 stars
6/20/05 Amanduh Amazing movie. If anyone has a problem with it, then dont get into skateboarding. 5 stars
6/20/05 Colton"Tater Salad"Kearney The Best This Year 5 stars
6/10/05 Rock-Steady Any movie about skateboarding is gay beacause, in fact, skateboarding is gay. 1 stars
6/09/05 b landers It was watchable 3 stars
6/06/05 Amy Kennedy this movie rocks. The reviewers are pansy nerds! 5 stars
6/05/05 brody an inaccurate portrale of the acutal events half of it was exagerated from jelously 1 stars
6/04/05 Debra Definitely a fun movie! Emile was interesting to watch, and Heath played lunacy, well. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Jun-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Sep-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Aug-2005




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