The Movie Waffler 1001 Overlooked Movies - <i>Lords of Dogtown</i> (2005) | The Movie Waffler

1001 Overlooked Movies - Lords of Dogtown (2005)

True story of the pioneers of California's skateboarding culture.

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk, Nikki Reed, Rebecca de Mornay, William Mapother 

Lords of Dogtown is a film set in Venice, California at the time when the skateboard craze ignited via a small group of teenage surfer/skaters known as The Z-Boys. Specifically, the film focuses on the lives of Jay Adams, Tony Alva, and Stacy Peralta. Jay, now sometimes referred to as “The Original Seed” of the skate craze, was a poor kid who just wanted to surf, skate, and help his mom. Played brilliantly by Emile Hirsch, Jay was the rebel who could never find his peace or place in the world, but with a skateboard in his hand, anything could happen. Whether he wiped out or did something you had never seen before, everyone was always entertained by his “go big or go home” persona. Tony, or T.A. as he is referred to in the film, is the one who is fueled by his desire to always go bigger and be better than everyone else. He was the cocky “take it or leave it” type that usually comes off as a showboating douche. Last, but certainly not least, Stacy, who actually wrote this film about himself and his friends, was the responsible and respectable pretty boy of the group. He went on to become the face of the big skate company that pitted him in a constant rivalry with T.A. However, while T.A. wanted to rule the universe, Stacy just went out to please everyone while doing what he loved.
Clearly, these three have completely different personalities that very well could have clashed to the point that they hated each other, but through the film’s many great character moments, we find how much these characters love each other like brothers. At the beginning, they are best buds who just want to live life to the fullest, but as we get to know them better we learn about their needs and desires on a level I didn’t expect from a film like this. Each character, while so drastically different from one another, finds themselves in a really crazy time where the fame obtained becomes so much that they are ripped apart; they are forced to go from being teammates to being competitors on the highest stage. But in the end, even after years apart, they are able to find common ground and become brothers again.
 What I love most about the film, even more than the great and crazy characters played by great and familiar actors, is that it gives me hope for my own future. Every time I see this film, I think of the different paths my friends and I will take throughout our lives, and I realize there will always be that one thing that can bring us back together: no matter where we are in life or in the world we will always be there for each other. You just need to find that one thing that you will always have to take you back to the time when everything was perfect. For these characters, it was draining pools for skateboarding, but for you, me, him, and her, it is whatever really speaks to us. 
Now, for those who may go out to find this one and see it, I know that this film is nowhere near perfect. There are many films that are much better made, but this one has such a great personality, one that speaks to me in the most surprising ways, that I could watch it every day and still love it more each and every time. Being a lover of rock music, this film always has me singing along with the great song choices that are just as hard rock as the characters on screen. Speaking of character, the supporting cast of the three mentioned before is a smorgasbord of familiar faces, including the late Heath Ledger. Ledger plays Skip, who owns his own surf shop and starts up the competition team before they all split up to make their own mark on the skate world. He plays one of the best roles that I’ve seen him in and is the sole character in my favorite scene, not only of the film, but one of my favorite scenes of all time.
 Even if you don’t like the actors, skating boarding, surfing, or films set in the time period, I suggest that everyone sees this film at least once. It has great characters that, while you may not identify with them, I guarantee that you will understand where they are coming from and you will empathize for each one. It is without a doubt a great coming of age film that deals with fame, hope, life, love, betrayal, pressure, greed, pride, and brotherhood. This is my favorite all time film, and I cannot help but suggest it to everyone I meet. Go find it and enjoy!

Andy Comer