Various talking heads have more to say about legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk than Sam Jones’ otherwise well-done documentary

If you’re not a skateboarding fan, you’ll probably only know that Tony Hawk exists, rather than anything specific about his life or accomplishments. You might know that there are a bunch of video games named after him, or that he appeared in a police academy film. But the fact that you’ve heard of him, even if you don’t know a quad deck of a cheese sandwich, says a lot about his impact and his role in gaining mainstream respect for a sport once considered a pass. -time for the bored. children and delinquents.

Sam Jones’ Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off is ostensibly a documentary about the world’s greatest skateboarder, but it’s also, perhaps unwittingly, a look at Gen X’s unique inability (appallingly, even worse than baby boomers) to admit that they maybe getting too old for some things. Because there seem to be distinct lines between what Hawk was and what he wasn’t willing to talk about on camera, this ends up being the most interesting part of an otherwise pretty rote true story about continued triumph in the face of adversity.

If ever anyone seemed destined from birth to his vocation, it was Tony Hawk. Born to already well-aged parents, he was a child desperate to find something to direct the boundless energy and nastiness that drove his mother to threaten to flush herself down the toilet if he didn’t behave. Hawk was drawn to skateboarding, which to outsiders seemed more like a style contest than athletic feats, and although it didn’t come naturally, exactly, his dedication and refusal to give up made him a formidable competitor, eventually beating other skaters years older than him. him.

This determination only grew as Hawk grew older, his friendly little brother separating him from the California surfers and surly punk rockers that were normally associated with skateboarding. Hawk hasn’t just dominated the sport, he’s turned it into a billion-dollar company, with more than a dozen video games, theme park rides, and the unfortunately named Boom Boom HuckJam, a extreme sports show on tour, bearing his name. Tony Hawk’s name is synonymous with skateboarding, and probably always will be, long after he’s gone.

But is he happy? Well, that remains to be seen.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Drop (HBO Max)

Other than a bittersweet moment where he visits his elderly mother in a nursing home and talks it all out, and goes silent when talking about his late father (who was much more supportive of his son becoming a professional skateboarder. than most dads would be), Hawk plays his emotions close to the vest, and it’s clear there are topics he isn’t comfortable discussing. Until the wheels fall eventually suggests that Hawk might only find fulfillment and inner peace when he skateboards, but if so, he says nothing. Although in good spirits about it all, he also seems to be a reluctant participant in his own life’s story.

What ends up being surprisingly interesting are Hawk’s former contestants turned friends, including Stacey Peralta, Rodney Mullen, and Duane Peters. All of them, like Hawk now in his 50s, still skate, still wear beanies, band t-shirts and neck tattoos, and talk proudly about the good old days of spitting at people and saying shit. like “That’s punk rock, man.” It’s kind of silly, and very “oh, daddy” embarrassing, but endearing too. It’s also surprisingly poignant, especially when they talk about the damage done to their bodies by what they love and what they will continue to do until they can’t anymore. But to give up is to recognize that they are getting old and their time is running out. Hawk doesn’t say as much, but considering he’s always trying new moves, sometimes screaming in pain when he falls, that’s saying a lot.

On the other hand, the limited number of female voices in Until the wheels fall, all either Hawk’s sisters, past or current loves, highlight how very masculine (not to say overwhelmingly white) the skateboarding scene was during Hawk’s heyday. This is never addressed, but on the other hand, the name of the documentary is not The history of skateboarding in America. It’s the story of Tony Hawk, though it ends up being less about him, and more about Gen X’s struggle to keep the flame of youth alive and the promise burning as time continues to tick.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off is available now on HBO Max.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off Trailer:

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