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Overall Rating
4.39

Awesome60.71%
Worth A Look: 32.14%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 7.14%

2 reviews, 16 user ratings


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Dogtown and Z-Boys
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by Scott Weinberg

"Skateboard: The Documentary"
5 stars

Hey, wanna watch a documentary about a bunch of skateboarders, circa 1975? Well neither did I about 95 minutes ago, and right now Iíd put Dogtown and Z-Boys down as a deserved Oscar nominee for Best Documentary.

To me, one of the biggest compliments you can pay a documentary filmmaker is "You took something I have next to no interest in, you made it absolutely fascinating and you did it in a supremely entertaining fashion." And thatís precisely how Iíd sum this movie up: watch Dogtown and Z-Boys for 25 minutes, and I bet youíll want to finish the damn thing.

Having literally no clue what the movie was about besides "skateboarding" (though admittedly intrigued by the generally very positive reviews this doc had been receiving) and knowing absolutely zero about the "old-school" skateboarders of Venice, CA, I was a bit skeptical about how a square like me would enjoy the show. Heck, I didnít know where Dogtown was or how a "Z-Boy" would differ from a "La-Z Boy". But now Iím hip. Iím rad. I know who Tony Alva is.

In order to convince you this isn't some boring PBS piece, here's the backstory: Dogtown, California is the unofficial name for a certain stretch of coastline located near Venice. (Not the one in Italy. Keep up.) Way back in grandpa years, this area had an amazing tourist attraction known as the Pacific Ocean Pier. A place of nightclubs, restaurants, and hundreds of carnival rides, this glorious family attraction fell into a state of abandoned disrepair in the mid-60's. And then some guys started surfing through it. I mean literally through the old pier bearings and broken-down roller coasters! There's actual footage of it! (OK, I thought it was pretty cool.) But this isn't a documentary about old amusement parks (though the backstory bits on the P.O.P. are examples of some brilliant documentary filmmaking) or California or even about surfing! It's about the genesis of skateboarding as we know it.

See, in a movie like this we (the landlocked pale people) learn stuff like "You canít usually surf after 10AM because the wind kills your waves". Looking for a more weather-friendly way to catch those pesky adrenaline highs, a crew of Dogtown surfers (the best ones of course) took to the roads with a glorious new style of skateboarding. Gone where the days of 1950ís dork-on-a-banana histrionics of street surfing splendor; this new wave of street racers were the epitome of style and gravity-induced inertia: the Z-boys. ("Z" is for Zephyr, which is the name of the team that they all competed on... but why not let the documentarians tell the stories and Iíll just concentrate on recommending that you rent the damn DVD.)

See, you can make a documentary on YARN PRODUCTION, and if you find a way to make it interesting and entertaining - it will be a movie worth seeing and I may even become a yarn enthusiast. Comprised of interviews with nearly all of the old Z-Boys, home video footage of numerous skateboarding stunts, and hundreds of still photos, Dogtown and Z-Boys does precisely what a documentary movie should do: it makes its subject fascinating whether you actually give a damn or not.

Sure, a few of the old skateboarders may come off a little arrogant or even weird, but heck: these guys sincerely consider themselves to be the revolutionaries who ushered in an entirely new sport, and based on the evidence presented in the movie - I'm apt to believe them. It's clear to see why director Stacy Peralta chose this project; his recent career has seen him directing various television productions, but before that - he was one of the most famous and talented skateboarders in the world! (Watch the movie; you wonít disagree.) As a member of the original Z-Boys, youíd logically expect Peralta to shade his subject matter in a clearly positive light (and a few of the interviewees do seem to break their own arms patting themselves on the back just a bit), but the movie goes a heck of a lot deeper than "Boy were we cool back then..."

Though the interviews and anecdotes cover a wide array of topics, a few central moments are concentrated on during the movieís best moments: the aforementioned history of the Pacific Ocean Pier is truly fascinating, the footage from a few big competitions (especially one broadcast on ABCís "Wide World of Sports") adds some national perspective to the Z-Boys impact, and there are some compelling tales about the rise and fall of a few skateboarding Greats, most notably when the various Z-Boys bail on their original sponsors in favor of more lucrative contracts and the national spotlight.

Chock full of colorful stories, amazing skateboarding footage, and a collection of joyously groovy seventies tunes, Dogtown and Z-Boys is an absolute must-see for those who adore modern skateboarding, those looking for a 16mm trip back to the mid-seventies, or those simply on the hunt for a fantastic documentary film. I may not have cared much about "oldtime skateboarding" two hours ago, but Iíd gladly reserve another 90 minutes if they ever make a Dogtown 2.

If you find yourself still interested in more scoop after the doc ends, take a look at the Special Features on Columbia's DVD release for a handful of impressive goodies.

Thereís a full-length audio commentary with director Stacy Peralta and editor Paul Crowder, and the track is as colorful and lively as the movie itself. The filmmakers talk about much more than just skateboarding, focusing at different points on the music, the financial backing, the source of the old home-movie footage, etc. It's clear that this was a labor of love for Peralta, since he essentially got to meld his two "lives" into one project, and his enthusiasm shows. You can also choose to watch the movie with the Extended "Raw" Skate Footage switched on. By doing so, you can flip to some more extensive (and periodically nastier) skateboarding footage via your remote when the onscreen prompt gives you the nod. (I would have liked to see all the raw footage perhaps offered as deleted scenes, but surely thatís a minor complaint.)

Also included is an alternate ending, which is footage of a modern-day Tony Alva skateboarding like a maniac through his family pool. (This guyís over 40 and look at him move!) A nice addition, especially for fans.

Youíll also find a few theatrical trailers and production notes courtesy of Columbia Pictures, the studio that picked up this soon-to-be-adored cult favorite.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5658&reviewer=128
originally posted: 04/30/04 10:48:04
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User Comments

6/17/05 minnie13 irgw movie rocked i loved it!! jay and tony are soo HOT!!!! 5 stars
2/16/04 Natasha Theobald enthralling from beginning to end- great storytelling 5 stars
10/18/03 Goofy Maxwell Learned more about sk8 roots in 90 mins. than I had after 18 mths. living in SoCal. 4 stars
2/27/03 Ace Jr Kicks anus!!!!! Sabbath and Blue Oyster rule 5 stars
1/14/03 blindah eric snider's review is a peice of crap! Ignore it totally and see it for yourself. 5 stars
10/26/02 Morally Sound Kicks fuckin' ass! The movie rules, the soundtrack rules, it just plain and simple RULES! 5 stars
8/10/02 spyguy2 Fascinating and totally engrossing story about skateboarding's early beginnings.of 4 stars
5/21/02 King Kong What a dull and pointless film. 1 stars
4/24/02 mumbo jumbo ok 1 stars
2/24/02 Zapa AWESOME DOCUMENTATION MOVIE ABOUT SURFING COMES TO THE TOWN LIKE FROGS OUT OF THE WATER 5 stars
2/19/02 billy bob fucken sic 5 stars
1/16/02 James Dixon Blinding! Great footage. Great photos. Inspirational and captivating 5 stars
1/13/02 Mike Menzies It drew a nostlegic eye sparkle taking me back to my own childhood skateboarding adventures 4 stars
1/11/02 Scott Gamble Awesome. Kids with no idea of the history of their sport need to see this film. 5 stars
1/07/02 Andrew Willams Inspired me to go out and skate a park, first time in 15 years. 5 stars
1/04/02 Mat E Thomas The editing is amazing, I don't think the director had much to do with this film. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Apr-2002 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Jan-2002


Directed by
  Stacy Peralta

Written by
  Stacy Peralta
  Craig Stecyk

Cast
  Sean Penn
  Stacy Peralta
  Jay Adams
  Tony Alva
  Bob Biniak
  Shogo Kubo



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