Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#186. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

Directed By: Stacy Peralta

Starring: Sean Penn, Jay Adams, Tony Alva

Tag line: "A Film About The Birth Of The Now"

Trivia: One of Sean Penn's reasons for signing on as Narrator was that he himself had lived and surfed in and near the Dogtown area

Jay Adams. Tony Alva. Skip Engblom. Stacey Peralta. 

For many, these names won’t mean a thing. 

Watch Dogtown and Z-Boys, a brilliant documentary on the surf and skate culture of the mid-70’s as influenced by a small beach-side Southern California community, and you will conclude, as I have, that each of them played a part in something very special. 

Narrated by Sean Penn, Dogtown and Z-Boys combines modern interviews with archival footage - comprised mostly of still photos and home movies - to weave its tale of rags to riches on 4 wheels. Dogtown and Z-Boys immerses us in the culture, teaching us how the sport of surfing, combined with advancements made in the construction of skateboards, influenced a group of kids from the bad side of town to experiment on back streets and alleyways.  From these humble beginnings, an entire sport was revolutionized, and would soon become (albeit briefly) a worldwide phenomenon. 

Along with the history, Dogtown and Z-Boys gives us the attitude, which director Peralta delivers by way of a rapid-fire pace and overall style, a cross between a PBS documentary and a music video. Yet, despite the guerrilla film-making tactics he employs, Peralta (himself a Z-Boy) always treats his subject matter with the utmost respect. In fact, one of the things I admire most about this film is how it approaches the culture with an almost reverent tone. Surfing, skating, and all those who surf or skate (or both) are presented with a veneration usually reserved for much loftier topics. 

This is not just a film about a bunch of kids having fun; it's the history of a movement, as seen through the eyes of those who were a part of it. For these former Z-Boys of Dogtown, skateboarding was more than just a fad...it was their entire world.


Anonymous said...

I loved this doc too. The music to go along with it was outstanding as well. The movie Lords of Dogtown I believe did a great job of taking the doc and making a story out of it not to mention finding actors who resembled the real-life figures. Heath Ledger was awesome as Skip.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by.

The music is great, and I'm also a fan of LORDS OF DOGTOWN. As you said, Heath Ledger did an incredible job as Skip.

Unknown said...

Not only have I seen this movie, my wife & I have it in our DVD collection. Great film!

DVD Infatuation said...

@Doug: DOGTOWN AND Z BOYS is a good one to own. It takes you inside the whole culture, and has a great style to it.

Thanks for the comment!

Tracy said...

One of the best docs ever! I'm totally obsessed with them now!

DVD Infatuation said...

Tracy: Thanks for stopping by!

I'm a big fan of this doc as well, and a decent follow-up is LORDS OF DOGTOWN, which is a dramatization of the events and people covered in DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (plus it features another fine performance by Heath Ledger as Skip Engblom).

TCeCinemaOne said...

Love this film, and the later drama "Lords Of Dogtown" based on it, but I really REALLY loved Peralta's followup "Bones Brigade" - in many ways, it's even better than "Dogtown and Z Boys", all about the next generation of shredders including the birth of the legend, Tony Hawk. If you haven't seen it, check it out for sure!