Lords of Dogtown Catherine Hardwicke

Lords of Dogtown is the true story of the Zephyr Team, a revolutionary group of surfers-turned-skateboarders from Venice, California who saved skateboarding from becoming the next Hula Hoop. As a sort of play-it-safe, summer blockbuster version of Stacy Peralta's Dogtown and Z-Boys documentary, it awkwardly skirts the grime of the '70s scene but somehow keeps the spirit intact. Though it'd be easy to gripe about a skateboarding film about friendship and defying the odds, it's really not as cheesy as it should be. With a nice performance by Heath Ledger (as Zephyr shop owner Skip Engbloom), a big soundtrack, and a who's who of skateboarding cameos, there's enough to tune in to whenever the movie turns a bit saccharine and showy. Since the sets and locations were made to look as close to the footage from the documentary as possible, the DVD supplements focus primarily on the film's quest for authenticity. The "making of" featurette details the recreation of the dilapidated Pacific Ocean Park Pier, with the actors learning to surf/skate on primitive boards so as not to look like giant fakes. When the kids can't perfect the old school techniques, real-life Z-Boys Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta are shown stunt-doubling, even though they're pushing 50. The director commentary is insanely thorough, pointing out details and cameos that are impossible to catch upon normal viewing. And who can go wrong with a self-explanatory featurette entitled, "Of Course We Want A Skateboarding Bulldog!"? Still, if you're into this whole thing, hold off for the unrated, uncut version with snazzier features. Plus: deleted scenes, more. (Columbia/Sony)