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Dogtown and Z Boys

I was really psyched when passes to Stacy Peralta's film, Dogtown and Z Boys, just sort of fell in my lap this afternoon. I was already planning to go see it when it opens this Friday, but getting to see it a few days early was a real treat. I went fully expecting this to be a great movie. Afterall, they don't give out awards at the Sundance Film Festival to pieces of crap. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

I've seen most of the skateboard movies ever made, and quite a few skate videos, and most have a couple of things in common. Good action, that you will watch over and over again, and the rest of the stuff that you fast forward through to get to the skating. Even the best of these, like Peralta's Bones Brigade videos, are just barely watchable when no one's skating. It seems almost inevitable that eventually someone would make a great movie about skateboarding. The fact that it was Stacey Peralta and this movie makes it all that much better. Surfing has Endless Summer, and now skateboarding has Dogtown and Z Boys.

I won't try to recap the movie. I could never do it justice, but if you've been living under a rock, here's what it's about. Dogtown and Z Boys chronicles the former members of the Zephyr Skateboard team and how they changed the face of skateboarding, and became the rock stars of the fledgling sport. If you've been around and read just about anything about skateboarding, you probably know the story, anyway, but you've never seen it like this, all put together in one spot, woven like a rich tapestry.

Most of the movie is told through interviews of the now adult Z Boys, as well as bits and pieces from other skateboarding legends from outside of the Dogtown scene. There's all of the great photographic imagery that we remember from Skateboarder Magazine, combined with great vintage film footage, some that you'll recognize from those barely watchable movies like Freewheelin' and some that I never imagined existed. The stuff of Jay Adams at the 1975 Del Mar National Championships alone makes it worth seeing. I can't wait for the DVD, so I can watch it over and over again. But to say that you need to see it because there's lots of great skating in some respects degrades the film. True, there is lots of great skating, but don't go see it for the skating, go see it because it's a great movie.

As a skater, I'm going to admit to something that almost seems sacrilegious. I never really liked the Dogtown skaters. I was always more into people like Ty Page, Henry Hester, and the Logans. Sure, I'd be the first to admit that the Z Boys were great skaters, but there was something I had trouble relating to. Coming from a very white suburban background, I never really liked that punk in-your-face attitude. It always seemed that the attitude was more important than the skating. Now, after seeing the movie, I can see where they were coming from. If you grew up in Dogtown and wanted to be noticed, you had to have attitude. It's not that the attitude was more important than the skating, but the attitude was the skating, and the skating was attitude. Maybe, that's what makes this a great movie. Not that I learned something about Dogtown, but that I learned something about myself.

Nose Wheelie, except where noted otherwise, was written and created by Chris Sturhann.
Copyright © 2002 Chris Sturhann