Lords of Dogtown is Hollywood’s adaptation of the 2001 skateboard documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. Dogtown and Z-Boys was such an entertaining and informative documentary that before viewing Lords of Downtown I was wondering why on Earth it needed to be remade. After watching Lords of Dogtown, I was still wondering the same thing.
Lords of Dogtown (like Dogtown and Z-Boys) tells the story of the Zephyr Street Skate Team, a team of young surfers-turned-skaters assembled by a local surf shop in the late-1970s. Some of the members of this young team included Jay Adams, Tony Alva, and Stacy Peralta, all of which who would eventually become legends in the skateboarding community. But before they were legends they were punk kids skating the streets of Santa Monica, creating their own style of skateboarding that reflected their surfing roots.
While Lords of Dogtown is “based on a true story,” it’s a little hard to swallow when one of the main characters (Stacy Peralta) was also the writer. For example in the movie, Peralta wins first place at the 1975 Del Mar Nationals. In real life, he placed sixth. Once details like that emerge the entire story becomes suspect. The true story behind the Zephyr skate team was so enthralling to learn about that I felt like the “reinterpretation of facts” is simply a disservice.
The majority of the film focuses not on skateboarding but rather the familiar teen issues of acceptance and conflict. Like most hobbies, even the innocent sport of skateboarding turns ugly when sponsorships and money is on the line.
I would probably give Lords of Dogtown a five or six out of ten if it weren’t for the existance of Peralta’s previous documentary, which is more exciting, more dramatic, and frankly a better film.