A trio of teens embarks on a cross-city expedition to skateboard greatness in “Deck Dogz,” a dynamic drama from Down Under accurately aimed at the urban adolescent market. With its authentic velocity, pic is determined from the get-go to catch the eye with every kinetic trick at its disposal. While yarn’s trajectory won’t gratify adults, script sufficiently catches the mood of Oz youth to be convincing, if occasionally contrived. Local B.O. at multiplexes should make for a profitable ride before ancillary starts wagging its tail, though international may be more of an uphill ramp.
Pre-credit sequence gets things rolling as Jay “Spasm” Filkins (Sean Kennedy) tries out his latest gymnastic skating tricks under the watchful eye of companions “Poker” (Richard Wilson) and “Blue Flame” (Ho Thi Lu). A high-octane chase ensues which sees the lads initially fooling, but eventually captured by, police — though not before causing $10,000 worth of damage.
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Post-credits, the trio’s obsession with skateboards makes them just as unpopular with other adults. A cigar-chomping principal confiscates Spasm’s skateboard and the boy’s concerned single dad grounds his wayward son to protect him from his “delinquent” friends.
Poker and Blue Flame execute a moonlight raid to liberate Spasm’s impounded skateboard so he can compete in a meet conducted by (real-life) skateboard legend Tony Hawk. In the process, the pair accidentally blows up the school, which puts the cops on their trail once again.
Reunited, Spasm & Co. speed across pre-dawn Sydney allowing them to strut their skateboard stuff. Upon arrival at the tournament, several subplots comfortably converge, adding extra energy when most teen flicks are running out of juice.
One subplot focuses on Poker’s brother’s drug use, which attracts the heat of some Abbott & Costello-style thugs. However, in general, references to drugs are kept deliberately vague, allowing in-the-know auds to connect the dots while allowinging the naive to remain comfortably in the dark.
Perfs by all leads are engaging, but Lu shines as comedy relief Blue Flame thanks to his lion’s share of humorous dialogue. Pro skater Hawk, an ESPN star who struck gold with console games, is wooden as himself, clearly more concerned with repping his wares. (Pic is awash with blatant product placement that will be virtually invisible to anyone aged over 25.) Other adult thesps comfortably stay within cartoony perimeters.
A 2002 Oscar nominee for his short “Inja,” helmer/scripter Steve Pasvolsky directs skillfully and is well supported by the snappy cutting of Jane Moran (“Moulin Rouge!”). Quality of Denson Baker’s lensing varies — rough moments no doubt have an eye toward creating street cred — but is well supported by Matt Goodman’s additional footage of Hawk’s skating prowess.
Animation inserts (presented as Spasm’s post-it-note drawings), while often irrelevant, are inventive and engaging enough to override their narrative incongruity. Music by Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil is suited to both story and target market, further boosting an already energetic flick.