• James Rutherford

'Dogtown and Z-Boys': An Exuberant and Nostalgic Documentary about the Legendary Skateboard Pioneers


Movie poster for the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys about the Zephyr Competition Team

"Dogtown and Z-Boys" (2001) is a documentary feature about the Zephyr Competition Team (aka "Z-Boys"), a surf team from the Venice Beach-Santa Monica area of Southern California first formed in 1971. Joining the team in 1974, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Chris Cahill, Stacy Peralta and Allen Sarlo represented the Santa Monica-based "Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions" in competition, while frequenting the infamous Pacific Ocean Park breaks they unceremoniously dubbed "Dogtown" for its remarkably shabby and dangerous conditions.


Intrigued by the burgeoning sport of skateboarding, the Z-Boys solicited Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom to sponsor a competitive skate team the following year, quickly altering the sport inextricably with their low-riding, hand-dragging style wrought from their years on the surf. The team's famous appearance at the Del Mar Nationals in March of 1975, delivering a fresh and aggressive form of skating to the crowd, would lead them to instant notoriety—sparking an outright revolution in the sport that quickly swept the nation.


Narrated charmingly by Sean Penn and directed by Stacy Peralta himself, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" plots the further course of the Z-Boys' exploits and careers, from the advent of vertical skating to major competition appearances and corporate sponsorships that would pay them handsomely and make them all world famous. It's a charmingly nostalgic and wonderfully energetic recapitulation of a bygone era, captured with true gusto and gratification. It's the type of film you'll want to revisit again and again, in order to lose yourself in its infectious microcosm of youth, spirit, adrenaline and groundbreaking historical achievement.

 

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