At the end of 2018 ‘Mid90s’, the first film as director by actor Jonah Hill was released. The film, centered as its title indicates in the mid-90s era, is a look at the beginnings of any skater during adolescence, when the feeling of being lost in the world is diluted thanks to the discovery of a new passion like skateboarding and new friendships.
On the occasion of the premiere of this movie we wanted to make a compilation on our favorite skate movies. There are not so many films focused on the world of skateboarding, and of course they do not stand out for their great quality, but several of them are certainly curious and not bad at all, even for the general public that little or nothing is interested in the world of skateboarding.
- THRASHIN’: ‘Thrashin’ is perhaps the most popular skate movie until the appearance of ‘Lords of Dogtown’. Released in the mid-80s, it is a revision of the old theme of Romeo and Juliet, or forbidden love between rival gangs. Despite focusing on something so old, the movie is an absolute delight that reflects the great boom of skateboarding in the 80s, with all types of skateboarding represented (freestyle, street, vert, mini, downhill) and an epic showdown between 2 very different groups , the boys of the Valley (healthy, blonde and sweet) and the feared Daggers (dirty, dark and dangerous). Among the actors, Josh Brolin is Corey Webster, the hero of the story, while Tony Alva, Eddie Reategui or Dave Duncan appear as dangerous Daggers, and the Bones Brigade as skateboard doubles of the valley guys. An eternal classic that you should know, without a doubt!
- DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS: Although it is technically a documentary, the truth is that ‘Dogtown & Z-Boys’ had a major influence on the recovery of the history of the beginnings of skateboarding and its subsequent worldwide popularization. Made by Stacy Peralta years after leaving Powell-Peralta, this impeccably made documentary with images of the era and an amazing soundtrack focuses on the early 70’s in Santa Monica and Venice Beach in California, where the appearance of Cadillac urethane wheels were the starting point of modern skateboarding. A group of young misfits gathered around the Zephyr store of Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom in Santa Monica, and among those were Peralta himself, Tony Alva, Jay Adams and many more. They discovered the possibilities of skateboarding and took it to the next step, developing the technique, the materials and the surfaces, because it is at this time where empty pools begin to skate and the so-called ‘vertical era’ begins. Narrated by actor Sean Penn, born in the area, this documentary is possibly one of the most powerful reasons to love the roots of modern skateboarding.
- LORDS OF DOGTOWN: Released in 2005 after the overwhelming success of the documentary ‘Dogtown & Z-Boys’, ‘Lords of Dogtown’ dramatizes and recreates the main events that are shown in the documentary by Stacy Peralta, who in addition to the main character is one of the writers. The movie is certainly a looser product, although it is very well produced and correctly acted, but it has some script gaps that dramatize excessively the facts at the cost of missing the truth, but hey, Venice is only 10 minutes away from Hollywood!
- GLEAMING THE CUBE: This movie became quite popular at the end of the 80s despite being pretty bad. Starring Christian Slater, who at that time was one of the ‘teen’ stars of the moment, but its plot of mystery thriller is poor, the actors are not especially memorable, and the product is only saved thanks to the appearance of many of the skate stars of the moment, like the Bones Brigades or even the infamous ‘Gator’ Rogowski, playing all the stunts (something they got used to at the time, because they also appeared in ‘Police Academy’).
- STREET DREAMS: Released in 2009, ‘Street Dreams’ is a product created and produced by Rob Dyrdek when he was still stumbling around looking for his place after a good career as a pro skateboarder. Watching this movie, the luck he had creating SLS and leaving the cinema aside was his salvation. ‘Street Dreams’ has several professional skaters as actors, and that is one of his biggest mistakes. P-Rod, Dyrdek himself, Sheckler or Terry Kennedy won’t be getting any Oscars anytime soon, and a fairly flat script revolves around the attempts of Derrick Cabrera (P-Rod) to become pro and take the beautiful girl on duty.
- GRIND: This is probably the worst of the entire list. Looking back, we will remember that the only appeal this movie had in its premiere in 2003 (big year for the industry) was the presence of the entire gang of Bam Margera and Jackass (skater section). On this occasion, skaters do not monopolize minutes of action as in ‘Street Dreams’, but the actors who are responsible for giving life to the skaters aren’t too credible. The movie was a bomb, and they can be thankful that 15 years later we still remember them on lists like this one.
- WASSUP ROCKERS: The true jewel of this list. Director Larry Clark always had skateboarding in the spotlight since the days of ‘Kids’ and ‘Ken Park’, but it was not until ‘Wassup Rockers’ where he focused directly on the world of skateboarding. This time from the point of view of a group of Salvadorean and Guatemalan teenagers who live in Los Angeles and go from following the prevailing current of Hip Hop and gangsterism to challenge the stereotypes of society through skateboarding. The movie follows a day in the life of the group of boys, who strive to get to Hollywood to skate some spots, and how that intention turns into something dangerous. This movie is perhaps one of the most unknown of the list, has a patina of documentary that sometimes is funny and others chilling, and is one of the most real examples of adolescent relationship with skateboarding and the friends you can find out there.
- BONES BRIGADE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Another of the jewels on the list, this 90-minute documentary recounts the 10 years of life of the Bones Brigade, the skate team of the Powell Peralta brand during the 80s, where Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain and many other skaters who have defined skateboarding since then. Made in a delicious way by Stacy Peralta (judge and party) and with exciting confessions in front of the cameras of all its protagonists, the documentary is one of the best existing documents about an era, the 80s, where the super popular worldwide skate scene that we live today was created, and became the heritage of a whole generation. A perfect continuation to ‘Dogtown & Z-Boys’ by the hand of one of the most outstanding characters in the history of skateboarding.
- WAITING FOR LIGHTNING: Danny Way is probably the most brutal skater that has ever climbed on a skateboard, and in turn, one of the most authentic. This documentary serves as a hagiography for the Southern California skateboarder, a boy with family problems who discovered skateboarding at a very young age and took it to a point that no one has ever been able to take it so far based on determination, effort and desire to excel by himself. Released shortly after Danny Way jumped over the Wall of China (in a ‘stunt’ that opened newscasts around the world in his day), it is a good document about how to overcome personal challenges, as well as a declaration of love for the skate world.
- MID90s: The ‘opera prima’ of its director, the popular actor Jonah Hill, the movie ‘Mid90s’ has been one of the big skate news of the year despite not being comercially succesful. Jonah grew up skating in Los Angeles during the time that the movie reflects, and that’s what the film is about. A pre-adolescent boy, lost in life to a mother who has no time for him and an abusive brother, discovers skateboarding and friendship, grows up, makes mistakes and gets into trouble, only to find friendship will be the way to overcome them and get to adult life. A true intimate, hard, fun film, a modern ‘classic’ that raises the artistic level of skate movies and gives them an authentic and realistic touch.
These are 10 films and documentaries with the theme of skateboarding in the background that any skater should know, so you can dive into the depths of the Internet, find them and spend a few hours of stoke in the sofa soaking up history.