Projections - Movie Reviews

Dogtown and Z- Boys

Dogtown and Z-Boys

The lowdown on 1970's Southern California "urban guerillas" who made skateboarding much more than a fad is done with slick cinema verite in Stacy Peralta's documentary Dogtown and Z- Boys.  The title is fully explained for those who stay through the end credits that feature more neat maneuvers from the likes of Peralta, a legend in the sport himself.

These skaters really had quite an influence from their lifestyle and attitudes on culture which spawned disco music and a self-made ethic.  A historical and cultural perspective is well drawn throughout by Peralta who co-wrote Dogtown with fellow skater Craig Stecyk.  A humanistic account is uncovered as something unique was created by a group of kids initially thought of as radical types.

From a brief segment of what gave these kids thrills as they passed the time of day, their origins show skateboarding reflecting another passion, surfing.  And as the 70's rolled along, these people came from an unglamorous area of Venice Beach and Santa Monica, which was to be named Dogtown.  Their sanctuary was the Zephyr Surf Shop, run by Jeff-Ho, and these social misfits became known as the Z-Boys.

The Z-Boys, which included a girl, Peggy Oki, was multi-ethnic, eager to show their talents and passion for what faded in the mid-60's after gaining some press and recognition.  Surfing would be optimal in the morning hours, but the waves usually ebbed thereafter, thus skateboards, homemade, would be ridden like ocean waves, whether on paved inclines or playgrounds.

These daredevils pounced on a famous drought to ride in backyard pools (often by draining them) before authorities chased them out.  When Peralta shows riding over the lights on the side of a pool to often become airborne, a new style was developed that would advance a sport which was rejuvenated by the Z-Boys.

The sight of a scary Jay Admas, highly regarded by his peers, and aggressive style kept him just above the ground that would make the incredulous crowd embrace his phenomenal achievement.  With Adams, who had his regrets with a wild personal life, and the amazing and cocky champion in Tony Alva, who went and established his own company, Peralta gets to the heart of some of the disparate, but affectionate skaters.

Dogtown and Z-Boys isn't just effective in conveying attitudes and lifestyles as the surfer from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jeff Spiccoli, (Sean Penn) narrates with understated accolades to those who experimented and unwittingly made a sport that would get notice on a hit TV show like "Charlie's Angels".  Peralta unfolds his unpolished documentary with a gritty sense of what kind of commitment and unconventional artistry from surfers that would come to shape modern competitions like the Ultimate X games.

Dogtown and Z-Boys

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