Dogtown & Z-Boys

"Very Good"

Dogtown & Z-Boys Review


Without the Z-Boys, there would be no X-Games. The very concept of extreme sports was born on the hot asphalt of a dilapidated south Santa Monica in the 1970s, when a group of teenage surfers took up skateboarding to keep busy in the afternoons when the waves died down.

The inventive, kinetic, spirit-capturing documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" recounts with vivid enthusiasm the history of how those kids led a mini-revolution in a street sport, dismissed by the mainstream, that continues to influence youth culture to this day.

Skateboarding had been around in some form since the 1950s, but it wasn't until the invention of urethane wheels -- replacing the metal rollerskate wheels that had been jury-rigged onto planks of wood for 20 years -- that skateboards became more than a novelty.

This is territory covered in the film, which packs everything you'd ever want to know about skateboarding into a bang-up 87-minute adrenaline rush. But director Stacy Peralta knows better than anyone why to focus specifically on the Z-Boys, who took surfing style to the streets, then to the paved embankments of school playgrounds, then to the drought-emptied swimming pools of Los Angeles. Peralta was a Z-Boy.

The moniker was the abbreviated nickname for the Zephyr Skateboarding Team, an offshoot of a rebellious and territorial surf club that fearlessly rode the wild waves which lapped through the hazardous ruins and fallen roller-coaster tracks of the once-famous Santa Monica Pier. Going to competitions where other kids were doing little more than "nose wheelies" and handstands on their boards, the Z-Boys literally surfed the streets, originating the kinds of board-gripping, back-flipping stunts that evolved into the visual signature of the sport. "It was like a hockey team going to a figure skating contest," one Z-Boy remembers.

Narrated with dry ebullience by actor Sean Penn, this documentary is occasionally a tad self-important ("Children took the ruins of the 20th century and made art out of it," says Penn), but it absolutely transports you into the Z-Boys culture. It's brimming with 8mm footage of a dozen legendary skateboarders like Peralta, Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Peggy Oki taking over empty swimming pools and literally inventing half-pipe skating right before our eyes.

Through obliging, reminiscent interviews, photos and stories culled from enthusiastic skateboard writer/photographer Craig Stecyk, and innovative, exhilarating editing by Paul Crowder, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" vividly characterizes what it felt like, say, the very first time Alva "caught air" while skating up the side of an empty pool. The viewer comes to understand vividly and vicariously how rousing it was just to be the guy who spots a great empty pool while scouring back yards from the roof of a car driving down suburban alleys.

One of the film's few problems is that dates are rarely given for the events depicted, so its timeline is unclear. There's no way to tell, for example, how soon after that first competition Peralta, Adams and Alva were snatched up by corporate sponsors, initiating the break-up of the Z-Boys. This is mentioned early in the film, but everyone seems to be around for the pool-thrashing episodes, which feel as if they take place much later.

But such quibbles don't diminish the feelings of extended adolescent joy that "Dogtown" will stir in anyone interested even vaguely in skateboarding as a sport or a pop culture phenomenon. Even those with no interest in skateboarding will get sucked into the film from a sociological standpoint. The significance of the Z-Boys influence on everything from MTV to ESPN simply cannot be underestimated, and in this movie you can watch bona fide footage of the birth of so many trends that still thrive.

It's no wonder "Dogtown & Z-Boys" took home the Audience Award and the Director's Award at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. This flick is about as cool and crowd-pleasing as a documentary can get.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Agi Orsi Productions, Vans Off the Wall

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Narrator, as Himself (Zephyr skate team), as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself, as Himself

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.