Movie Name: Dogtown and Z-Boys
Studio: Agi Orsi Productions
Release Date(s): January 19, 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
In the 1970s, skateboarding was a dying fad that appeared to be at its end of days. When the surfers of the Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Production began experimenting with “surfing” on land using skateboards, things began to change. With a new style of wheel and a drought providing pools to skate in, the Zephyr Boys were about to change skateboarding forever.
Directed by former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta, Dogtown and Z-Boys was a documentary following the rise of modern skateboarding. The movie was met with critical acclaim and spawned a film retelling of the story called The Lords of Dogtown in 2005. The movie has garnered a cult following.
I remember seeing videos of skateboarders in pools on Sesame St. or Electric Company and thinking that skateboards were so cool. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but in ’80 or so, it wouldn’t shock me if that video was of the Dogtown Zephyrs skateboard team. It is interesting to see how a small group can have such a big cultural impact that still is active today.
The documentary does a really good job showing the evolution of skateboarding. It has a clean, concise “storyline” which is easy to follow as it examines the origins of boards and the evolution of the major players.
It is the players in the world of skating that helps this movie. Almost every member of the Zephyr skate team could have carried their own movie. They all have the same origins, but they went on to different and bigger things. The movie does a great job exploring them with Sean Penn serving as narrator.
The movie looks great but I will admit it tries a bit too hard to be edgy. It is the “EXTREME” nature of the movie that sometimes gets in the way of the movie. The movie has a lot of good original footage from the time of the birth of skateboarding, but it tries to be raw with things like keeping Penn clearing his throat in the mix feel a bit desperate.
Despite a few blunders, Dogtown and Z-Boys is a strong documentary. If you ever wondered how skateboarding boomed to what it is today, this is the documentary you need to see. The original extreme skaters that helped launch skateboard culture make for an interesting story, and the style of the documentary is what you’d expect to tell the tale of a bunch of rebels…and turned them into celebrities.
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