During the height of California's suffocating drought in the mid-1970s, quiet, long-haired Peralta (Elephant's John Robinson), cocky Alva (Raising Victor Vargas' Victor Rasuk), and self-destructive Adams (Emile Hirsch) began transferring their ocean-skimming techniques to the city's blacktop and empty swimming pools, resulting in an almost instantaneous phenomenon that thrust them onto the covers of magazines, into lucrative endorsement contracts, and onto the set of Charlie's Angels. Hardwicke's film (written by Peralta) presents this real-life tale with a mixture of exuberance and cautionary wariness, depicting the benefits (sex, money, fame) and pitfalls (jealousy, clashes over girls, obligations to their less-than-supportive parents) of these adolescents' sudden rise to superstardom. Thanks to Elliot Davis' bleached-out, nostalgically hazy cinematography (which mirrors the pulverizing propulsion of street skating by twirling, spinning and sticking low to the ground) and liberal use of thunderous '70s tunes by Hendrix and Sabbath, Hardwicke's period piece has a groovy, hard-charging dynamism. And as in her last film, the director - via Peralta and Adams' rivalry over Alva's sister Kathy (Nikki Reed) and Adams' difficulties at home with his irresponsible mom (Rebecca De Mornay) - laces such heady, sun-dappled optimism with an undercurrent of looming menace.
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