Dogtown and Z-Boys

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Dogtown and Z-Boys Movie Poster Image
Before Tony Hawk, skateboarding had the Z-Boys.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Team members are described as aggressive. Various members discuss drug abuse, promiscuous sex, and overall excessive behavior. This film does, however, present a refreshing multicultural vision of skaters. The film also includes the illusive female skater (Peggy Oki, an original member of the Zephyr team).


Some skateboard scrapes, dangerous surfing practices.


Some strong language.


Ads for various specific tennis shoes and skateboards while discussing the commercialization of the sport.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Images of alcohol consumption and pot smoking, discussion of drug abuse

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes some profane language used in casual discussion. Interviewees discuss sexual escapades and drug use, but neither of these activities are main topics of conversation. Parents should be forewarned that the film glamorizes trespassing and rule-breaking. However, the majority of the film simply centers on the evolution of skateboarding and its Dogtown roots.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 15 years old Written bychargnar March 11, 2012


Even if you aren't into skateboarding, you will still like this movie. One of the best documentaries ever.

What's the story?

Skateboard culture exploded in the 1970s when a band of renegade surfers in the rubble of Venice Beach, nicknamed "Dogtown," brought a sexy, guerilla version of skateboarding to the masses. DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS chronicles the Zephyr skate team and their roots as surfers, through a series of contemporary interviews and historical footage. Mostly street kids of broken working-class families, the Z-Boys would scour the then drought-ridden region for abandoned swimming pools, transforming the dormant pleasure land into a concrete tidal wave. Finding public success in the wake of the 1975 Del Mar skateboarding championship, the team would splinter as the members joined more commercial teams. Zephyr co-founder/writer Craig Stecyk would bring national-renown to Dogtown kids through a series of illustrated articles in Skateboarder magazine. These are the young men and women credited for skateboarding's 1970s explosion and who foreshadowed today's aggressive skate style.

Is it any good?

Dogtown and Z-Boys effectively combines film and still-photography to capture the spirit and style of the period. The filmmakers use tinting, a mixture of film stocks, slow-mo, quick rewind, and a rockin' underscoring to transform this history lesson into a visual and aural thrill ride. Those at the Sundance Film Festival stood up and took notice. The film won both the audience and director's awards for documentary, and it garnered a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize. The film also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. Dogtown and Z-Boys revolves around interviews with a collection of Zephyr team members. Examining their rising stardoms and futures, the film presents a combination of wild successes and lost chances. Disaffected 1980s bad boy--and teenage California skater--Sean Penn (Taps, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) narrates.

Parents may find some of this film to be a bit risqué, and should definitely contemplate relaying the consequences of illegal actions such as breaking and entering and drug use into conversation before viewing. However, they might want to consider allowing their teens, especially skateboarding enthusiasts, to watch not only for the skate tricks, but also as a means of learning the potential negative effects of achieving fame so quickly and at such a young age.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the present skateboard culture today compares with that of the 1970s. Both Stacey Peralta and Tony Alva chose to embrace product sponsorship as they climbed the ladder to success. Would you consider this selling ut? After leaving the Z-Boys, tacey and Tony became archrivals. How did money and celebrity contribute to the demise of their friendship? Jay wound up shunning sponsorship and succumbing to drug use. How do you think environment played a role in his actions, specifically the neighborhood in which he was raised and the people he associated with? The Z-Boys garnered instant success, having little means to cope with it. Parents may want to relate this experience to the ways in which pop stars like Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff have handled their celebrity.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love skateboarding

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