Lords of Dogtown (2005) … Is Awesome!

So, as some of you know, my job recently moved into NYC. As a result I’ve got a couple hours on the train every day to get to work, which means I’ve got time for reading and watching movies. It’s nice to have something to do, but it also means I’m watching a movie in pieces instead of all at once. The first movie I watched like this was Lords of Dogtown.

Man, this was a rad movie. It took a while to watch the whole thing, but the great thing about the movie is that, even watching it that way, it was still crazy fun, engaging as hell and hit me in the guts at the end.

LOD is a biopic about a group of kids who were skating back in the 70s and went on to become a pretty big deal in the skateboarding world. It stars Emile Hirsch, some other kids who I hadn’t heard of but were AWESOME, Rebecca De Mornay as Hirsch’s strung-out mom, Heath Ledger as the surf and skate shop owner and Ethan from Lost as De Mornay’s one-time boyfriend.

The kids start off just skating in their neighborhood, join up with Ledger’s skate crew, getting big in the skate world then getting drawn on to bigger companies to skate for.

The crazy thing about the movie is that, I recognized Ledger early in the movie when he was surfing and then didn’t realize it was him as the surf shop owner because he really gives himself up to the character. I really thought it was another guy because he puts on this great Cali-dude voice. Ledger’s character isn’t the center of attention by any means, but he’s the character I felt for the most. He helps them out, sponsors their team, gets them into the game and then everyone bails on him for bigger and better (or, well, less and close-to-nothing).

So, on to the actual stars of the movie. I really like all these kids, even when they’re being unlikable (a true testament to their abilities). Hirsch really shines as the troubled kid from a bad place who slowly slips into what appears to be the life of a gangster after walking away from pro skating.

I realize I’m not capturing how much I liked this movie or how good it really is, but I think what I liked about the movie is that it was real and, even though it kind of followed the biopic pattern of small time guys getting big and then burning out, there’s a huge glimmer of hope at the end of the flick, well, for most of the characters. And, as a plus, unlike most biopics, everyone isn’t dead at the very end.

Seriously, if you’ve ever liked Emile Hirsch or Heath Ledger in a flick or have any interest in skating or 70s period pieces or just damn good acting, you should definitely check Lords of Dogtown out. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary it was based on Dogtown and Z-Boys.

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