#SXSW: “TONY HAWK: UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF”
By David Baldwin
The first game I got for Playstation 2 was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. I played the hell out of that game and its predecessors, yet could barely keep my balance on a real skateboard (never mind try to pull off tricks!). In the years since, my skills have worn off, as has my knowledge of what a monumental talent Hawk was in the world of Skateboarding. TONY HAWK: UNTIL THE WHEELS OFF changed all of that and tells his story with insightful, candid detail and even more than that, celebrates how influential, stubborn and determined an athlete he is.
Documentarian Sam Jones and his team have assembled a treasure trove of vintage photos and footage of Hawk’s early days, right through his performance at the first X-Games and into the present day that he captures himself. All of it is incredible to watch, even if you are not that familiar with skateboarding. Jones also brings together Skateboarding royalty such as Stacy Peralta, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero and more to talk about the sport, their careers and their feelings on Hawk. Some of them have great things to say, while others are decidedly more bitter in their commentary. What they all have in common is their vulgarity and not pulling any punches. There is no sugar-coating here. Just raw, unfiltered thoughts.
What I think I appreciated even more about the doc – and what I wish it tapped more into – was the profound sadness, grief and worry many of these skaters have for Hawk’s well-being and their own. They are still skating well into their 50s and have no intention of slowing-down (hence the Film’s title), even with the knowledge and acceptance that they cannot keep doing it forever. The introspective discussion around the injuries they have sustained and not knowing what impact they will have on their lives in the decades to come is moving and so much less glossy than I ever would have expected from a film like this. The way they talk about inevitability is downright tragic, and I am still getting choked-up days later just thinking about it. It really shines a light on the price these athletes pay for the sport they love, and though the Film runs a pinch too long, I really think they miss an opportunity by not diving into it more. It is genuinely exhilarating to see Hawk land The 900 on camera, but watching him fail 10+ times before that is just plain exhausting.
TONY HAWK: UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Saturday, March 12 at 12:30PM EST – Paramount Theatre
Monday, March 14 at 10:00AM EST – Available for 48 Hours