The kid can’t be more than 12, maybe 13 years of age. His gangly frame might weigh about 100 pounds if he were soaking wet; standing on the edge of an empty swimming pool, he looks jittery enough to hurl. Then he steps onto his skateboard, drops off the concrete lip into the abyss and launches himself into some graceful, gravity-defying maneuvers. His name is Tony Hawk, and, along with the half dozen other misfits watching him sail blissfully into the air, he’ll turn pro skateboarding into a million-dollar industry.
You don’t have to know the ’80s skating scene to appreciate Stacy Peralta’s doc on those who revolutionized it, as he lays out the major players of the Bones Brigade collective: Besides Hawk, there’s sensitive genius Rodney Mullen; gonzo street skater Lance Mountain; Steve Caballero and Mike McGill, who both pioneered groundbreaking aerial moves. Not to mention Peralta himself, the team’s patron (and patron saint), who picks up the history-of-’70s-thrashing thread from 2001’s Dogtown and Z-Boys and integrates his own story into the Brigade’s rise-and-fall saga. While copious footage and present-day testimonials slowly detail said rise trick by trick, the fall is relegated to a few cryptic statements (“It just couldn’t last, man”) and a record-shattering number of shots featuring crying fortysomething skaters. After the buildup, the quick dismissal feels a little anticlimactic; a slightly more objective perspective also might have muted the didn’t-we-almost-have-it-all sentimentality. Still, no one is better suited to tell this story than Peralta, a documentarian who’s both chronicled skating’s evolution and contributed to it. You just wish the moviemaking were as consistently graceful and momentum-fixated as the film’s rail-grinding subjects.
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