Dogtown and Z-Boys

Dogtown and Z-Boys

USA, 2001. Rated PG-13. 97 minutes.

Featuring: Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Paul Constantineau, Shogo Kubo, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml, Allen Sarlo
Narrator: Sean Penn
Writers: Stacy Peralta, Craig Stecyk
Cinematographers: Peter Pilafian, Pat Darrin
Producer: Agi Orsi
Director: Stacy Peralta


Grade: B+ Review by Claudia Smurthwaite

L ike the boys of Dogtown, I too spent my summer afternoons in the late 70's in a pool, though mine was filled with water and countless laps. I was the budding synchronized swimmer in spandex and sequins, the Z-Boys were commandos who raided neighborhood pools, emptying them of water if necessary so they could spend the day carving and grinding.

Narrated by Sean Penn, Dogtown and Z-Boys traces the evolution of modern skateboarding from the beaches of Santa Monica to its streets, playgrounds, and pools. The Z-BoysThe Z-Boys were a group of kids from the wrong side of the tracks who were taken under the wing of local surfboard maker Jeff Ho and his partners in Zephyr Surfboards. They surfed the local waves in the morning and, after the surf died down, spent the afternoons skating in front of the Zephyr store. The invention of polyurethane wheels gave skateboards stability and maneuverability clay wheels didn't and allowed the boys to adapt the cuts and turns of surfing to skating. Immortalized on film and in print by Craig Stecyk, the Z-Boy mystique and attitude became a cultural phenomenon inspiring the likes of musician Henry Rollins and Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament.

The Z-Boys skated together and as sponsorship opportunities grew, against each other. Some found success; some struggled with success, and others determined to define success on their own terms. They are the originators of Extreme Sports and their influence can be seen from the X-Games to the Olympics.

To create his history of the Santa Monica surfers and skateboarders, director Stacy Peralta, an original Z-Boy, has gathered the original team and interspersed commentary and recollections with photos and film. These are the gods of skateboarding, the guys that my younger brother, like thousands of GenXers, looked up to and emulated as he skated the local streets, grinding the curbs, and publishing his own skate 'zine. Though I was never a skater (the water made for a much softer landing than the pavement), Peralta drew me into the skating subculture. It doesn't take a hardcore sidewalk surfer to appreciate the enthusiasm and spirit of Dogtown and Z-Boys.

Review © May 2002 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images 2001 Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.

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