Dogtown Redux: Lords of Dogtown

So you say you saw 2002’s Dogtown and Z-Boys, a gritty documentary that covered the same ground as the new Lords of Dogtown, and you wonder why you should see this new one?!

Fair enough. There is one great reason to see the new film written by Stacy Peralta, who also wrote and directed the former film.

No, it’s not to see Johnny Knoxville in a white Tom Wolfe suit. Nor is it to see Tony Alva and his sister hook up – fortunately, not with each other – in the bedroom they share, which is sick enough considering how hot his sister is.

No, the real reason to see it is to answer the burning question, “Was Peralta the bona fide kook of the Dogtown crew?” How could that hippie hang with Tony Alva, Shogo Kubo and Jay Adams?

Fortunately, that first question – was Stacy the company kook? – is answered early on with a resounding (spoiler alert!) “Yes.”

It’s almost – almost – worth the eight bucks for admission to see Heath Ledger as the drunken rapscallion Skip Engblom harangue young Stacy for a fall – er, wipeout – in the surf beneath the dilapidated Ocean Park Pier, re-created
here in all its slummy glory.

To be fair, Peralta was a gifted skater who morphed, oh, 25 years ago, give or take, into a savvy businessman and acclaimed skate video and documentary maker.

To be very fair, Peralta wrote this gritty but uneven film, painting a not-altogether-flattering picture of his younger self as a willowy pretty boy slumming it in Dogtown, awash in a sea of testosterone, pier wreckage and weed.

Still, it still seems curious, disingenuous even, the way Peralta glorified himself in Dogtown and Z-Boys as a critical corner in a triangle comprising himself, Jay Adams and Tony Alva.

For all the criticism the new film is enduring in skate circles – for instance, where were the rest of the Z-Boys? – no one seems too concerned with the film’s shameful anachronisms. Did Jay just do an acid drop off that street ramp in 1975?

Was that a wall ride, a trick that wouldn’t be invented for another ten years? Oh, and look, there’s a 9-inch-wide wood deck in the era of skinny boards?

When Adams ollies years before the trick’s advent from one desert full-pipe into another, all credibility was lost.

Interestingly, the crowd seemed to recognize a cameo by
Tony Hawk as an astronaut with two left moon boots, but missed altogether one by fellow Bones Brigade member

Lance Mountain as a British bobby moments earlier.

That either of his former team skaters turned up in this shows that Peralta – what? Still wants to fit in? Never forgets his pals? Can’t say. The film doesn’t begin to answer those questions.

Peralta should be encouraged to stick with the faithful documentaries that are truly his gift. Likewise, he should be discouraged/stopped from torturing the world with his uncannily contrived canned-corn dialogue. He’s got a wooden ear, and it is petrified.

“He’s not a pirate,” Engblom says of Peralta. “I don’t want you ever wearing underwear around me again,” Alva’s sister says to

Adams. “I see you got your shadow back,” Alva says to the fictional Stacy late in the movie. Lines like these just come spilling over the lip again and again.

Oh, and next time director Catherine Hardwicke tackles a historical movie she might want to consider hiring actors that look less like the source originals, even if it means going
so far as to hire actors who can actually act.

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