Movie Review: DVD: Lords of Dogtown

Wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting a bit of a feel good film on the order of “Gleeming the Cube” only not cheesy and with some killer skating. However, what I got was a tough watch–a story about some young guys growing up in a tough environment escaping poverty by rising to fame in the newly born sport of skateboarding.

Now the skating was cool. It was especially cool to watch the development of the sport. The film chronicles the lives of three pioneers of the sport from the early 70′s through like the early eighties. The film pretty well shows the evolution of skating from something like figure skating to the hard core serious arial and vertical stuff we are acustom to today. The tough part of the film was seeing that although these young guys were dedicated to their sport and good at it, their personal lives were a total mess–mixed up in sex, alcohol, drugs, and crime. Their rise to fame only enlarged the scope of their potential debachery. Stacy Peralta stayed pretty well above all the garbage, but he was still surrounded by it and directly affected by his friends cruelty and poor lifestyle choices. Competition eventually drives a wedge between the three main characters. However, the film ends on a positive note as the love for a friend brings the three back together. That theme is repeated in the extra features of the film where you see Jay Adams, Tony Alva, and Stacy Peralta working together behind the camera fleshing out details of the story and coaching their on screne counter parts.

The film was terribly well made. The camera work was awesome. Unlike most skateboarding flicks which are shot with video cameras, this film was shot on film. Skateboarding legend, Lance Mountain, did the camera work for the skatboarding scenes. The first board I bought myself was a Lance Mountain board.

The acting was superb. Emile Hirsch did a very compelling job portraying Jay Adams. I was seriously awed as I watched Jay Adams in the extra features. Emile Hirsh had perfectly protrayed his real life counterpart’s attitude and mannerisms on camera. He had also done a fantastic job of protraying Jay Adams descent from relative innocence into oblivion. Jay seems to have gotten his act back together somewhat in his 40′s though he is clearly still affected.

It is difficult to predict how much of the success of this effort was a result of director, Catherine Hardwicke, or of Stacy Peralta writng, and his so many other’s behind the scenes support of the production. They dragged up a couple of dozen legendary skaters and others connected to the sport to provide input on the fill–in addition to who I’ve already mentioned, Christian Hosoi, Ling Bei, Tony Hawk, Bob Biniack, and others–most of whom make breif cameos in the flim.

The DVD contains a good selection of extra features that are nearly as interesting as the film itself. Though the extra features possess the sme major defect as the film itself. Here comes my warning label: The film contains more profanity and vulgarity than I’d like. The original film was rated PG-13, but I’m sure the unrated director’s cut of the film would have been rated R for language. There was no nudity though there were sexually suggestive scenes that would have made me uncomfortable watching it with my mom.

Bottomline: a terrific and well made film for those interested at all in skateboarding, though I’d recommend the PG-13 incarnation if you are at all sensitive to foul language.

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