Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, starring Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, John Robinson, Johnny Knoxville, Victor Rasuk and Michael Angarano.
One of the best documentaries of recent years, 'Dogtown and Z-Boys' was about much more than just the evolution of modern skateboarding. Its director, Stacy Peralta, one of the original Zephyr (Z-Boys) skate team, also managed to capture the potential and excitement of youth and the vibe of 1970s California and wrapped them all up in a life-affirming film with a brilliant soundtrack. Peralta followed up 'Dogtown and Z-Boys' with the surfing documentary 'Riding Giants', but has now turned his attention back to his own story and teenhood by writing the script for 'Lords of Dogtown', a pointless attempt to turn his first film into a youth drama.
With 'Thirteen' director Catherine Hardwicke behind the lens, 'Lords of Dogtown' begins promisingly by introducing us to the three very different boys who would go on to achieve skateboarding immortality: the sensible Peralta, the ambitious Tony Alva and Jay Adams, the troubled son of a boozy mother whose talent is the most unique of the trio. Hanging around the Zephyr surf shop and trying to avoid the jibes of owner Skip (Ledger) and his friends, skateboarding is secondary to surfing for Peralta, Alva and Adams - until Skip takes delivery of some new polyurethane wheels and the sport changes forever.
Now able to turn corners and put their skateboards through all manner of previously impossible tricks, the boys ditch the waves in favour of concrete and become members of Skip's fledgling skateboard team. While the traditionalists are none too happy with the Zephyr posse's antics on and off the ramp, they're powerless to stop progress. And so the three friends become the leaders of a new youth movement - but the price to their friendships and idealism is a high one.
While teenagers might find 'Lords of Dogtown's mix of good tunes and angry young boys appealing, the film won't crossover to an older audience the way Peralta's documentary did. With a dreary script, which never manages to make teen angst equate with real drama, the film accelerates downhill until eventually the wheels come off so loudly that you're left wondering what the point was in making this film in the first place. The characters lack depth, some of the acting is poor, Ledger's Austin Powers-meets-Keith Richards turn gets more grating with every scene and it's only Hirsch that keeps you watching with his convincing portrayal of Adams - the father of modern skateboarding who had both hands on the self-destruct button.
If you haven't seen 'Dogtown and Z-Boys', buy it or rent as soon as possible. Either way, don't waste your time with this.