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Lords of Dogtown
Time Out says
Hardwicke showed some nous in her last outing, the female teen-rite-fest ‘Thirteen’, taking care to temper her cute observations to please the complex self-image of her target audience. She goes one better here, describing with surprising élan the world of the poor, young, male Venice Beach skating crew that joined the competition team set up in the late 1970s by spaced-out surfer-dude Skip Engblom – an almost unrecognisable and enjoyably OTT Heath Ledger – to rock the sport to its concrete foundations. Skater-turned-filmmaker Stacy Peralta outlined his own and his mates’ bruised rise to cult stardom in the 2001 doc ‘Dogtown and Z-Boys’. The fact that he has written the script here – his fictionalised self, played by silver-locked John Robinson, is one of the central foursome, alongside commercially-savvy Tony (Victor Rasuk), loose-cannon Jay (Emile Hirsch) and Sid (Michael Angarano) – may explain a slight swerve towards hagiography. But it could be worse. Allowing for the hermetic in-talk, product-placement and self-aggrandisement (hordes of tactile bikini-clad girls seem to reward every 480 degree turn or special grind), this is a decent if unsophisticated kids’-eye melodrama. Hardwicke keeps her cast at ease during their group interactions (though it’s no Santa Monica ‘Diner’), while parents are either irrelevant, obtuse or dysfunctional: Rebecca de Mornay plays Jay’s mom like an ageing bimbo from Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’. The rush is in the mainly excellent sports footage, from the opening road-level-shot descent to the sentimental ‘for-old-times’-sake’ swimming pool swoops at the end.