12 June 2010 | wes-connors
Director Catherine Hardwicke, who helped a few teenagers discover the versatility of the tongue in "Thirteen" (2003), takes an impressive cast and crew back to the year 1975. The "Disco" storm was crashing airwaves, but not at Venice Beach, California. There, the pre-punk "Lords of Dogtown" ramped up skateboarding "to the extreme" and made it a sport.
Opening with the familiar phrase, "Inspired by a true story," this is a fictionalized film version of the superior documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" (2001) - which anyone interested in skateboarding as sport should see. Hardwicke's young "Lords" are Emile Hirsch (as Jay Adams), Victor Rasuk (as Tony Alva), and John Robinson (as Stacy Peralta). They are introduced in an excellent opening sequence, but the story doesn't get off the ground until about halfway through. We get a lot of documentary-styled scenes - which don't really do anything to improve upon "Dogtown and Z-Boys" - before getting to know the three leading men. It might be interesting to see Mr. Peralta's original story idea, because much of this story seems whitewashed.
Crack a board, bro
The real drama herein arguably centers on Mr. Hirsch's character. The three actors are fine, but Hirsch is given the best material. As his sexy, sand-blasted mother, Rebecca De Mornay (as Philaine) helps. And, Hirsch gets to sing the "Slinky" theme song. Watch for a truly magical moment when, after losing a contest, Hirsch sails off the pier; photographed beautifully by Elliot Davis, it combines the thrills you experience surfing and skateboarding. Also on hand, in an stumbling and underwritten role, is wasted surfer Heath Ledger (as Skip Engblom). Better utilized is the role played by fellow traveler Michael Angarano (as Sid). He helps give the film an unexpected, uplifting ending by taking the three estranged "Lords" back to their roots.
****** Lords of Dogtown (6/3/05) Catherine Hardwicke ~ Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, John Robinson, Heath Ledger