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On the mortality of celebrities.

4/10
Author: Pepper Anne from Orlando, Florida
21 September 2009

D.O.P.E. focuses on the similar rise and falls of four first, second and third generation skateboarders. Dennis Martinez and Bruce Logan came from the generation of gymnast-styled skaters (think headstands and 360 flatground spins) in the 1960s, a style that was ultimately rendered obsolete once the legendary Dogtown skaters in the early to mid 70s. The team included the rambunctious and talented Jay Adams, among others. And in the 1980s, Christian Hosoi dominated as one of the top vert skaters.

However, while each of these skaters found commercial success in doing what they loved, the dramatic ebbs of skateboarding's commercial excess forced those in skateboarding to realize their own mortality, which goes with the territory of "celebrity." Each of the former skaters in this very direct, cautionary documentary recounts their descent into heavy drug abuse which eventually landed them in prison. In Hosoi's case, this was something already documented in "Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi." Jay Adam's drug use, too, is to some extent already documented in Stacey Peralta's Z-boy documentary, which begs the question as to why the subject must continuously be revisited, especially when there a few incidents like these in recent pro skating (saying a lot about the drug cultures of the 70s and 80s).

Granted, this film is trying to make a point about the consequences of life in the fast lane. A lot of these pro skaters were very young when skateboarding started gaining commercial success, and were being turned into celebrities as soon as their early teens. There is a substantial amount of interview footage, though Martinez and Hosoi seem to be the most willing and most open about their past. It isn't really a film for skate fans as the documentary spends most of its time going into great detail about each of the skater's descent into addiction. It presents little about skateboarding itself, but instead focuses on the personalities, and gets a bit too overzealous.

What kind of impact this will have on the young viewers the filmmakers hope to reach (this being freely distributed to high schools) is unclear. Many are probably aware of Hosoi and Adams, and possibly Bruce Logan because of the continued existence of the Logan company. But, why Martinez is chosen is puzzling, especially when Dave Hacket and Jeff Grosso, both pro-skaters from Hosoi's era, fell into the same trap, but were not included. Chances are younger viewers would heed the lessons of their more recent idols.

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