Director(s): Sam Jones
Focus: Tony Hawk
It seems like people nowadays are born knowing the name Tony Hawk. No professional athlete has been as synonymous with a sport as Tony is with skateboarding. When people think of Tony Hawk, they think of skateboarding, and vice versa when skateboarding is brought up, Tony Hawk is usually the first thing that comes to mind.
Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off is more a documentary about the skating scene in the 80s than it is about the man who is Tony Hawk. Director Sam Jones is able to get interviews with skating legends and dives deep into pro skating in the 80s and the Bones Brigade, a group Hawk was frequently affiliated to. Jones could have done a deep dive into Tony Hawk’s life: his upbringing as a gifted child and the youngest sibling of 4, and the youngest by a fair amount, but instead, Jones captures exactly what he needs to. He captures Hawk’s life through skateboarding because to know Tony Hawk truly, you have to know skateboarding.
Tony Hawk’s family loved him, but because of his age difference with his siblings, and his difficult relationship with his parents, he always felt like an outsider. Skating was a release for Hawk. He was always a scrawny and hyperactive kid, but when he skated it gave him the chance to prove there was somewhere he belonged.
The next bit of the documentary shows Hawk successfully proving himself time after time, still, Tony Hawk didn’t feel like he should be there. Hawk talks about this difficult time when he lost his father and had to continue competing, pushing himself to be even better. He stopped caring about winning everything and decided he was just going to challenge himself every chance he got.
These challenges culminated at the 1999 X Games. After 10 failed attempts, he finally lands the 900. Something that seemed impossible for so long became a reality in the matter of one night. Hawk’s determination bleeds through in the footage, and when he lands the trick you can’t help but shed a tear. Hawk lived his life trying to prove he belonged, and with one trick, on one night, he didn’t just show it to the world, but to himself as well. Landing the 900 wasn’t just a massive moment for Hawk himself, but for the entire skating community as a whole. It changed how people look at skating and instead of a hobby, skateboarding became a dream.
This documentary is for skaters, and for people who love skating. Learning about the discovery of some of the most used and insane tricks in skating history is something that would appeal to fans of the sport more than the average person. Still, even a non-skater like myself can understand and appreciate the difficulties of the tricks and can relate to the passion these skaters have for something they love. It’s these moments that really make this documentary feel like it can be digested by everyone.
Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off might not be the most in-depth look into Tony Hawk’s life as a person, but it is a poetic documentary for the skating community as a whole. It is also a story for dreamers, showing them that no matter how many times they fail, continue to get up and get back on your board.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.