Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography Movie Poster Image
Inspirational stories from Tony Hawk and other pro skaters.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 110 minutes

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age 11+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Bones Brigade shows that by practicing and developing skills, teens can excel at something they love and perhaps even make a living at it. Though the skateboarding world is sometimes depicted as rebellious and irresponsible, these folks demonstrate that you can succeed without becoming corrupted. It also celebrates the benefit of teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The featured skateboarders seem to have benefited from their training and their time spent in their chosen sport. Outsiders tease them for being so clean-cut, saving their money, and not spending it on partying. Some of them talk about troubles springing from family conflicts, but most of these seem to have been overcome and/or resolved over time. Tony Hawk in particular, and his work building skate parks in troubled communities, is a stand-out.


Some skateboarding wipeouts and mild injuries are shown in some of the flashback footage.


At an impromptu skating event, a teen girl is possibly topless, though it's very blurry, very briefly, and seen from a distance. One of the main interviewees is shown to have been married and had a baby at a relatively young age, though this isn't discussed in detail.


About a dozen uses of "f--k," and a few uses of "s--t" during the interviews. Other words include "damn," "hell," "idiot," and "retarded."


In some of the older footage and photos, logos for Pepsi and Coke can be seen. "Slurpee" is mentioned. Tony Hawk is a brand in and of himself.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one sequence depicting an impromptu skating event, teens are (very briefly) glimpsed drinking beer. One of the interviewees mentions this as well. In old photos, one of the main characters is shown drinking an entire bottle of "mescal" (and eating the worm).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is a documentary about a team of famous skateboarders directed by Stacy Peralta (who previously made the best skateboarding documentary to date: Dogtown and Z-Boys). Like that movie, this one has a wealth of old photos and home movie footage to draw from, showing teen boys training hard, developing skills, and goofing off. Language is strong in the present-day interviews, including about a dozen uses of "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t." One of the main characters is shown to have married and had a child while still relatively young (late teens/early twenties). In the older footage, a teen girl is very briefly -- and blurrily -- topless, and teens are very briefly seen drinking beer. In photos, one of the main characters drinks an entire bottle of "mescal." Teen skaters are shown occasionally wiping out and mildly injured.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old November 6, 2014


Really positive messages and great for skaters. Has a few pearlers in it but it's pretty much fine, because kids that skate would hear those words every ti... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta assembled a group of young, promising skateboarders, who came to be known as the "Bones Brigade." In BONES BRIGADE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, many of the original members share their memories, good and bad, for the camera. A kind of father figure to some of the more troubled boys, Peralta guided and coached them through an early era of skateboarding parks, the downfall of skateboarding, and its rise again in the late 1980s. The group also produced popular skateboarding videos. Eventually, some of the team members, notably Tony Hawk, became highly successful competitors. Today, most of these men are still following their dreams -- and still making a living.

Is it any good?

It's hard to believe that, more than 10 years after Dogtown and Z-Boys, director Stacy Peralta would make another skateboarding documentary just as entertaining. Though it employs a standard "talking heads" format, Bones Brigade digs a little deeper into the emotional side of things, especially given that most of the interview subjects are speaking to their old mentor; they tend to open up a bit more deeply and honestly than in a typical documentary.

The movie has tons of great footage from the 1980s, clearly demonstrating the amazing skills of people like Hawk and Rodney Mullen, even to non-fans. Yet the skaters get a good, long chance to talk about their old fears and anxieties, as well as those times when their passion seemed to slip away, and it took a great effort to rediscover it. Interviews from rival skaters and celebrity fans provide a little perspective as well. This is a terrific movie, especially for teens looking for a little inspiration or guidance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether these skateboarders, Tony Hawk above all, are role models for teens. Does it matter whether skateboarding is a "respectable" sport?

  • Was fame a goal for these athletes? Or did fame come about as a result of following their passion? What's the difference?

  • How did teamwork help the individual skaters achieve success?

  • Do any of these skaters present a positive body image? If so, how?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love skateboarding and documentaries

Themes & Topics

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