Dogtown and Z-Boys
Title: Dogtown and Z-Boys
Author: Independent Spirit Award (2001)
This story is about a group of discarded kids who revolutionized skateboarding and shaped the attitude and culture of modern-day extreme sports. Featuring old skating footage, exclusive interviews, and a blistering rock soundtrack. Narrated by Sean Penn.
In the early 1970s, a group of young surfers from a tough neighborhood south of Santa Monica took up skateboards and offhandedly changed the world. At least it appears so after watching Dogtown and Z-Boys, a documentary about how twelve “Z-Boys” (including one girl) resuscitated a dead sport and created a lifestyle that spread infectiously to become a worldwide counterculture phenomenon, namely high-flying “vert” (i.e. vertical) skateboarding and punk rock abandon. Director Stacy Peralta, one of the original Z-Boys, and Craig Steyck, the photographer whose publicity first made them famous, would have you believe that with empty pools as their springboard, the clan single-handedly carved a niche that grew into what is now referred to as “extreme sports” (snowboarding seems particularly implicated). Degrees of accuracy aside, the hoard of original footage Peralta and Steyck have access to makes for an engaging portrait of “accidental revolutionaries” whose mythology as expressed by themselves (all but one of the original crew give extensive interviews) and those they influenced (including Henry Rollins, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, and Sean Penn, who narrates) is far more entertaining than any evenhanded version could ever hope to be. —Fionn Meade