Box art for Lords of Dogtown

Lords of Dogtown

action & adventure, drama, sports

See how extreme sports got its start with this critically-acclaimed, true-life story of three teenage surfers and best friends in Venice, California, who radicalized the sport of skateboarding in the 1970s.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 14
Positive messages
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
5 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Portrait of Venice, CA, '70s teen skater culture.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes teen smoking, drinking, drug use, foul language, sexual activity, and violence. The heroes are 1970s California rebels who essentially invent freestyle skateboarding, then confront a barrage of commercial contracts and crass promoters, instant celebrity, high stakes competitions, and insecurities among themselves. Some of the kids also deal with money problems at home, single and absent parents, and romantic pressures. One skater learns late that he's suffering from brain cancer, and his post-surgery appearance, surely gallant, may also be distressing for younger viewers.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the many ways that kids can rebel against authority and convention and what does and doesn't appeal to them about skater culture. Families can talk about what is and isn't compelling about rebellion. How does the movie alternately celebrate and question the main characters' choices? What does selling out mean to kids? And what are kids willing to sacrifice either to make money or follow their dreams?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 17
    see all Lords of Dogtown reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: When the film works dramatically, it works because of Emile Hirsch and Heath Ledger].

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, June 3, 2005

Rotten: If watching Dogtown and Z-Boys was tantamount to witnessing history itself, watching Lords of Dogtown, which Peralta wrote, feels more like watching a stiff, meticulously choreographed reenactment.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, June 3, 2005

Fresh: Lords can't quite sustain this adrenaline to the finish as it eventually loses focus and takes a fall into sentimentality. But when it excels, it brings that electric charge that comes when a film's style is perfectly matched with its subject.

- Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News, Friday, June 3, 2005

Audience Reviews

1 star

god this is so middle school "we should be worshipped cause we're to cool to get a job we just wanna grow our hair and skate all day and the chicks love it!".... how obnoxious can u get??

- LoughnerWasLucid, Friday, June 19, 2009

3 stars

thought it was good

- LWOODS04, Friday, June 12, 2009

4 stars

Skip: "You gotta approach every day as if it's your last!" The true story of the kids who created modern skateboard culture is recreated in this drama. In the early '70s, skateboards were seen as a fad of the 1960s that had all but died out, but in a rough-and-tumble Venice, CA, community known as "Dogtown," that was about to change. Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), and Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch) were three guys who liked to surf the rugged beaches around Venice and hung out at the Zephyr Surf Shop, a store run by Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger) that stocked gear for adventurous surfers and skateboarders. With the advent of new urethane wheels that connected with concrete in a way old metal and rubber wheels could not, Tony, Stacy, and Jay began exploring ways to translate radical surf style to skateboarding, and the guys invented a new way to skate inside the smooth, round surfaces of empty pools, employing vertical moves and edge flips that added a new and dramatic spin to skating. It didn't take long for word to spread about the wild new style of the Z-Boys, and they quickly became local celebrities, and later nationwide skating stars, though sudden fame took its toll on these young men. The true story of Lords of Dogtown was previously the basis of the acclaimed documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, directed by former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta, who like Tony Alva served as a consultant on this project. Lords of Dogtown is one of the best movies to come out of 2005. It has it's funny parts then its more dramatic meaningful parts, the two contrasts of the both make the film really enjoyable. If you love the whole surf/skateboard scene you will absolutely love it! Great acting by the skating trio and so is Heath Ledger as their manager per se, Skip Engblom. Skateboarding today is entirely different from the skateboarding in the '70s. Today's skateboarders mostly rely on high-flying octane tricks while '70s skateboarding is mostly land tricks. Most tricks are even derived from surfing. Its like surfing on land back in the seventies. Great story, great cast, great director. Kudos to the cast and crew for making an excellent film.

- LorenzoVonMatterhorn, Monday, October 6, 2008