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Still shot from the movie: Lords of Dogtown.

Lords of Dogtown

Based on the true story of a group of kids from Vince Beach, California (played by Heath Ledger, Stephanie Lamb, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, and John Robinson), who formed a skateboarding team and revolutionized the sport with their extreme moves and attitude. Get the movie review and more. »


Overall: C-
Violence: C+
Sexual Content: D+
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: D
Run Time: 107
Theater Release: 02 Jun 2005
Video Release: 26 Sep 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Skateboard parks have sprung up in urban centers around the world. But it wasn't always so. In the mid-60s, the popular teen fad of the 1950s had practically disappeared. Then a ragtag group of kids from the seaside slum of Venice Beach, CA. revolutionized the sport in the 70s with their extreme surfer-like moves and unruly attitudes.

For the kids from the Dogtown neighborhood, surfing is their passion and skateboarding is just something to do when the waves are bad. Coming from mostly poor or broken homes, they hang out at the local surf shop owned by Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger) and his partners. It is his idea to organize the Zephyr skateboarding team that later becomes known as the Z-Boys.

Rolling into the Del Mar Nationals in 1975, the boys and their one female teammate (Stephanie Lamb) spark controversy among judges, managers and the other contestants when they defy the entire criterion of the competition and introduce their own radical approach to the sport.

Lords of Dogtown chronicles the next few years as the Zephyr team, led by Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk) and Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), transforms boarding into a counterculture trend. Never satisfied with their accomplishments, they continue to push the limits, always looking for new challenges. When severe water bans are imposed during California's drought of 1976, the kids prowl the wealthy neighborhoods near their ghetto to find empty pools for boarding. Their antics anger the violated homeowners but win them increased notoriety and a feature story in a skateboarding magazine.

However, as their popularity increases so do egos and the lure of financial sponsorships. While the funding gives the Z-Boys a chance to earn some economic independence, it also threatens to rupture their friendships as various skateboarding companies draw them away.

Using current skaters to reenact the era, the movie includes cameo appearances by some of the original Z-Boys and their competitors, as well as having former Zephyr team member Stacy Peralta (now a filmmaker) write the script. These factors alone may draw in boarding enthusiasts, but the film does little to dispel the extreme attitude that often accompanies extreme sports.

There are a few other concerns family will want to be aware of too. The team's coach, Skip Engblom, appears to be perpetually stoned or drunk, even when driving the boys across the state to various competitions. The use of illegal drugs and alcohol is rampant among the teens. In addition, vandalism, shoplifting, graffiti and easy sex are commonplace for many of these youth whose home lives are as mean as the streets they board on. With plenty of profanities and violent outbreaks, these Lords of Dogtown reign on the roughest strip of asphalt on the California coast.

Lords of Dogtown is rated PG-13: for drug and alcohol content, sexuality, violence, language and reckless behavior - all involving teens

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Heath Ledger, Nikki Reed
Studio: 2005 Sony PIctures

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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