It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Dogtown and Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta's documentary tributes to the fine, upstanding gentlemen who revolutionized skateboarding back in the '70s by adapting surfing moves to the concrete waves of empty L.A. swimming pools. But Peralta, who was one of those revolutionaries, can't seem to quit paying tribute to...well, himself. For here he is again, this time with a docudrama based on his documentary. Written by Peralta and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who brought an in-your-face immediacy to the plight of girls-gone-bad in Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown covers pretty much the same territory plowed by Dogtown and Z-Boys, but it does it with more style and attitude, the very qualities that set the Z-Boys ' punk rockers on wheels ' apart in the first place.
They came from nowhere and had nowhere to go, but they were determined to get there fast. And the movie's at its best when they're on the move, swirling and twisting, carving the air with moves that sent skateboarding into a whole new dimension ' i.e., vertical. There isn't a plot, really, just forward momentum, the story structured like a killer wave that the Z-Boys can ride only so long before wiping out. And the villain of the piece is that old Bitch-Goddess, success. Pursued by endorsement deals and by girls with Coppertone tans, these teen-rebels-turned-teen-idols didn't know how to play the fame game. Or so Hardwicke and Peralta would have us believe. The fact is, the three whom the movie focuses on seem to have played it very well, two of them ' Tony Alva and Peralta ' still managing to make a comfortable living off the sport.
The third member of the triumvirate, Jay Adams, ran into trouble with the law and now resides in Hawaii. (If you gotta live in exile, it might as well be in Hawaii.) But it probably wouldn't matter if he'd wound up the governor of California. Lords of Dogtown is determined to follow its rags-to-riches-to-disillusionment template, despite a final scene that has the Z-Boys back in a swimming pool, where it all began. The actors playing the main characters ' Victor Rasuk as Alva, John Robinson as Peralta, Emile Hirsch as Adams ' weren't asked to give full-bodied performances. Nevertheless, they inhabit their roles as if they're ratty old T-shirts they plan to wear forever. And the movie has that same lived-in feeling. Rarely slowing down, it's an adrenaline rush of caught-on-the-fly, fly-on-the-wall filmmaking.