Lords of Dogtown - For the love of skating
| Lords of Dogtown is the dramatized story of the legendary Z-Boys, the Venice, California teens who turned skateboarding into a counter culture phenomenon in the 70s. These are the pioneers who made skateboarding what it is today by taking advantage of drought induced water rationing and skating in empty pools.
This story is fairly familiar; boys from the wrong side of the tracks make it big by breaking all the rules and wrangling lots of female attention before it is all brought crashing down by greed and ambition. Whatever happened to the pure love of skating?
Okay before this clichéd premise turns you off, the film remains pleasantly entertaining. Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) captures the frenetic pace of the subject and manages to piece together a fairly kinetic film. This is what makes the story work. If the audience wasn't as in love with speed as the characters, the film would have fallen on its ass. Fortunately, Lords of Dogtown manages to always keep us whizzing along and the rush makes up for what's lacking in originality.
The actors were obviously chosen for their ability to skate and not their acting chops. John Robinson (Elephant) is especially clunky in his portrayal of one of the original boys. Even Johnny Knoxville, who has proven himself to be quite charismatic on screen despite all reasonable expectations, seems wasted here. Only Heath Ledger stands out as the mentor pothead just too old to be on the cusp of this new trend and just too young (or stoned) to exploit the kids successfully enough to make his own fortune.
Still, the script is tight, exploring just enough to keep us interested between skating jaunts, and the story pleasing enough to be entertaining. This is a skate love-in made for those who truly love it. Lords of Dogtown is the kind of film that feels like it was made with the approval (if not even the sponsorship) of its subject. Therefore everyone is treated with kid gloves. Fortunately, the movie is fun enough to forgive.
Lords of Dogtown may not be anything special but it certainly is worth checking out. Fans of the sport should be pleased that there is such a loving tribute to the subject of their dreams.