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Dogtown and Z-Boys (1 Viewer)

Ross Williams

Supporting Actor
Feb 9, 1999
Went and saw this last night and really enjoyed it. It's a documentary about the guys that started modern skateboarding. I used to skate so I'm a little biased, but my girlfriend who has absolutely no interest in the subject really liked it too, maybe even more than I did.
It is a really well put together film, with a ton of great old skateboarding footage, photographs, interviews with the "boys", and a great soundtrack. I didn't even realize till the end that Stacy Peralta, one of the "boys", had directed it. Put a great spin on it for me, as it was sort of a love letter to his youth.
If you're a fan of documentaries, skateboarding, or just good films you should check it out. The Trailer.

Edwin Pereyra

Senior HTF Member
Oct 26, 1998
It has been getting some really good reviews. I'm glad someone here has had the chance to screen it.


Jason Whyte

Jun 3, 1999
I know I'm itching to see it.

I know Stephen R has also seen the film and he gave it a ***1/2 rating, so hopefully he'll pop his comments on here too.


Cal S

Stunt Coordinator
Dec 28, 1999
I saw this as well, here in Dallas. This film is GREATNESS!!
There was never a lull in the film, I was constantly interested in what this guys had to say and what they were going to do next.
Thumbs friggin' UP.
Go see it.:emoji_thumbsup:

Mark Palermo

Second Unit
Jun 28, 2000
I think the critics have really lost it on this one (which is what happens when middle-agers kowtow to the youth-market). It's the first really overrated movie of 2002, though it's not without merit.

Here's my review of it, originally published in The Coast.

Popular belief tells us that Marty McFly brought skateboarding to American youth. But the feature documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys brings to the foreground something skating enthusiasts know already: it was a group of eight lower-class California teenagers that turned the skateboard–initially tossed off as a 60s toy fad akin to the Hula-Hoop–into an instrumental hybrid of urban-centered art and sport.

During the 1970s, the Zephyr Skating Team emerged in Santa Monica, incorporating surf stylistics to their skateboarding techniques. With the architectural ruins surrounding Venice Beach already providing prime skating fodder, it was the onslaught of drought that provided the greatest boost for the team’s development. Dried-up residential swimming pools were now skateable, and the Zephyrs (who come off as somewhat of a street-gang) took daily possession of them until they were chased away by homeowners or the police.

The audience and critics award winner for best documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Dogtown and Z-Boys is now being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. Its prestige is further heightened through the inclusion of Sean Penn as narrator. By maintaining an instance where he coughs through a line, the filmmakers want to excuse their other shortcomings as intended style (a punk anti-aesthetic). But beyond skating enthusiasts--who will admittedly constitute most of its viewers--and older audience members entranced by the subject’s exoticism, the film fails to hold interest through most of its duration.

Directed by Stacy Peralta, one of the titular Z-Boys, who incorporates archival skating footage, still photographs, and contemporary interviews to a vintage rock soundtrack of high-profile acts like Jimi Hendrix and Iggy and the Stooges. The rapidly-edited mosaic looks scarily as though Peralta were trying to be Oliver Stone without any political impedes beyond self-lionizing congratulation.

Only when flirting with several members brief integration as mainstream celebrities, does Dogtown and Z-Boys develop a substantial point of view. These moments cynically view the members’ self-imposed freedoms as they become unwittingly developed as corporate products. One of the Zypher crew, Tony Alva, is sponsored to the point of becoming a teen heartthrob. To date, he’s probably the most recognized skateboarder who’s ever lived. Even Peralta lands a guest spot on tv’s Charlie’s Angels, and the insert provides the film’s best moment. It’s such a gratuitous star-cameo, it has to be seen to be believed.

If the whole exercise were this shrewd, the Sundance awards would be appropriate. What there’s too much is interviews with middle-aged, self-proclaimed radicals indulged in endless back-patting sessions for having spawned "a revolution." But a revolution of what? Hedonism? It is precisely Peralta’s involvement in this movement that makes his filmmaker’s perspective so simplistically two-dimensional. Rather than probe the complexity of a youth-movement, Dogtown and Z-Boys amounts to a giant exaltation of "Yeah, we were heroes. We gave teenage lives purpose."

Such ego-tripping can’t animate this documentary–it’s so fascinated with itself, it negates any sense of discovery.

Stephen R

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 28, 2000
Well, I'm firmly on the side of Ross and Cal on this one. I had a chance to watch Dogtown at a recent festival and loved the heck out of it. It's lively, fast-paced, and a whole lot of fun. It wasn't just me enjoying it, either -- the entire audience seemed to be vastly entertained by it. In fact, there was a loud roar of applause when Peralta stepped up to answer some questions. This wasn't just a skateboarding crowd either. I noticed people of all ages and types.
Such ego-tripping can’t animate this documentary–it’s so fascinated with itself, it negates any sense of discovery.
I don't know exactly what you mean by this. I'm pretty sure I discovered about as much as the filmmakers wanted me to -- the story about how some close-knit kids with a lot of time on their hands, inspired by their Venice neighborhood and by the surfers they admired, decided to create something of their own.
And is it ego-tripping? Probably a little, but honestly, if the docu wasn't as straight-forward about how important THEY (the skaters) felt what they were doing at the time was, people now probably wouldn't care. Peralta idolizes certain things (and people) precisely because they were turning points in this story; those uninitiated in the skateboarding world wouldn't give a flying crap about the first full aerial if it wasn't portrayed as a kind of religious epiphany in the docu. That's not really self-centered to a large extent; it's more of a device to highlight the major points in a story that not many people know much about.
All in all, I think the documentary and story is a personal one. I assume it was made with full collaboration of the entire original Zephyr crew with hopes of inspiring some kind of nostalgia for a time when skateboarding was something new and bold. That's not an easy task seeing as how the roots detailed in Dogtown had all but been forgotten by everyone but the die-hard skaters.
Yeah it's probably a niche movie, and I assume that yer average moviegoer (whatever that means right now) isn't going to find much of real interest, but judging by the crowds reaction at the festival, I think it could be a real hit based on its energy and surprising poignancy.
And for what it's worth, I thought the song-selection for the soundtrack was excellent. :)

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