|Deck Dogz (2004)
Starring: Sean Kennedy, Richard Wilson, Ho Thi Lu, Tony Hawk
Director: Steven Pavsolsky
Here’s a skating movie that has it all, kids. The short list includes: prosthetic mutant hairy balls, Maxi Pads used as knee pads, pooping in a big piece of drainage pipe, bloody puncture wounds, lighting farts in hotel rooms, blow jobs in a skateboarding nightclub, shoplifting, assault and battery, parents who just don’t understand, and of course, Tony Hawk. Sound like fun? Well, it actually is, for the most part. And what it is is “Deck Dogz,” the first feature-length film by writer-director Steve Pasvolsky, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 for his 2001 short film “Inja.”
“Deck Dogz” stars Sean Kennedy, Richard Wilson, and Ho Thi Lu as the title characters, a trio of skateboarders who want nothing more than to get sponsored by Tony Hawk at the local beach bowl competition to finally break them free of the constraints of the local Australian skateboarding scene. Of course, the Dogz’ families don’t quite get it, with the parents seeing the ways of their sons pointing them straight down the drain. Ah, to be young and misunderstood once again. The good old days.
Cinematically, “Deck Dogz” has a lot in common with the visual style of such heavyweights as “Trainspotting,” “Snatch,” and “Fight Club.” With its fast pacing, nifty quick camera edits, and a dash of bizarre humor, Pasvolsky creates a world for his characters that is more cartoonish than realistic, but after all, this is the movies, and well, if you’ve ever seen any of the skateboarding movies from the ‘80s before the whole scene got reignited once again in the late ‘90s to rock star status, then you’ll be more than happy to get the fix of super-cool that the movie’s visuals present. Also thrown into the mix are some dynamic flip book style animations that are constantly injected into the scenes, which also add to the film’s sense of action dynamics.
“Deck Dogz” was originally a full theatrical release in Australia, and apparently it bombed, from what I gathered doing a bit of research on it over at IMDb. More research uncovered a rather overall distaste for the flick from the Aussie crowds, with a couple viewers saying something to the effect that it was another nail in the local filmmaking casket. It’s a shame, really, because on the surface there’s a lot to like about the film, from the visual style down to the soundtrack. It’s swift at a nice 88-minute running time, and while it doesn’t challenge anyone deeply, it doesn’t need to. It’s a pure entertainment movie, and succeeds on that level. True, it might be geared to a younger audience, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and never once felt the need to stop it and come back and watch the rest of it later.
Some message board folks against the flick stated that “Deck Dogz” isn’t realistic in the way it portrays skaters. Well, yeah, it’s kind of got that wacky “Caddyshack”-like core to it, but so what? Not every skating-related product that comes down the line has to be X-TREME and pimped by guys like Bam Margera with a rote punk rock soundtrack backing it up. In fact, very little about the movie is extreme, with the skateboard tricks being rather basic fare. Even Tony Hawk’s sequence at the end isn’t jaw dropping, but all in all, “Deck Dogz” is fun, and that’s the point.There’s a bit of bonus material on the disc, and if anything drags the rating down for this DVD, it’s this stuff. While the movie is good in itself, there isn’t much excitement to watching a making-of featurette, an alternate ending, or the Stickers featurette (“Stickers” being another character that wants desperately to become one of the Dawgz and got his nickname for constantly hoarding skateboard stickers). However, the animation featurette isn’t too shabby, and the Tony Hawk portion is rather cool. That said, “Deck Dogz” provides enough enjoyment for skateheads and armchair athletes alike. Fun for all.