Anthony's Film Review
Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Lords of Dogtown is an OK movie, but at least the subject of the skateboarding culture makes it interesting...
In the 1970s, a few young boys in Santa Monica and Venice in California spent their free time doing two things they loved most: surfing and skateboarding. But they didn't just do those things recreationally. They also discovered the potential for skateboarding to become a big thing, just as surfing was a phenomenon. They took part in skateboard competitions and introduced the world to skateboarding along the way, expanding the skateboard culture beyond the boundaries of a local following. Aerial skateboarding as we know it today ultimately began with these young boys from Southern California.
Lords of Dogtown chronicles this rise of the skateboarding culture. Three of the young boys I just mentioned - Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay - are members of a skateboarding team based out of a skateboard and surf shop called Zephyr, run by a guy named Skip (played by Heath Ledger, who definitely sinks into his role). You can sense the passion of their hobby through a couple of scenes in the beginning of the movie. For example, one of them is rolling down a hill on a skateboard, timing the descent precisely so that he appears to be heading into cross traffic, but actually reaches the intersection right when the traffic light on the street he is on turns green. The thrill of skateboarding comes from trying out new tricks and stunts.
In fact, I would say that the movie works mainly because of camera shots of young boys on skateboards. Whether they are hanging to a bus while on skateboards or weaving in and out (and also on top) of parked cars, their moves are captured well on screen. There is one notable part in the film where, during news of a drought, the boys decide to trespass into backyards with empty swimming pools just to skateboard in them. They do tricks that involve skating up, down, and around the pool walls. You can tell that this pool skateboarding will lead to what we see today in professional skateboarding.
As for the story and character development, they're pretty minimal as far as I'm concerned. But there's still some good material in the movie. Late in the film, there is opportunity for the boys to enjoy fortune and fame, but that opportunity creates conflict among them to the point where it jeopardizes their friendship. And even if the characters do seem like stereotypical young boys, they're not entirely dull characters. They're still interesting to follow over the course of the movie. And at the end, we see, as with any biographical movie, a text epilogue telling us what each of the characters has done since.
Lords of Dogtown is far from being an incredibly inspirational movie. It may be at least a bit inspirational for die-hard skateboarding fans. Otherwise, it's just an OK movie. Keep in mind that it's not because the subject of skateboarding can't be made interesting to the mainstream. On the contrary, I think it can. Rather, I say Lords of Dogtown is just OK simply because there's much room to develop story and characters but at least it showcases the fun of skateboarding. With that, my rating for this movie is a marginally positive 6 out of 10 stars.
For more information about Lords of Dogtown, visit the Internet Movie Database.