Heath Ledger may be the Val Kilmer of his generation. Under a hand-wrung mop of dirty blond hair and hiding behind an assortment of sunglasses and an inexplicably nasal SoCal sneer, Ledger chews scenery as Skip Engblom, owner of the 1970s Venice, Calif., Zephyr Surf Shop that unleashed the fearless teenagers who shocked skateboarding into its gravity-defying present: the just-in-it-for-the-rush-man wild child Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch), Latino firecracker Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), and long-term thinker Stacy Peralta (John Robinson). They rule the streets of their ghetto by the sea, Santa Monica, which they affectionately dub "Dogtown," and storm the square skateboarding world with their aggressive action only to succumb to the dangers of life-on-the-edge youth (Adams) and success' spoils (Alva, Peralta). Based on true stories, Lords of Dogtown plays out as a pretty typical rise-and-fall sportsploitation flick, complete with Johnny Knoxville donning a blond wig (and proving he and Kid Rock were separated at birth) and Rebecca De Mornay making smoking space-case MILF action as Adams' mom. If you really want to know what's what, check out Peralta's own doc, Dogtown and Z-Boys, which dishes the real deal in adrenaline-pushing detail.
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