My son’s first skateboard was a Tony Hawk board – I remember it well, and I remember how in awe my son was of the champion trickster. Hawk is not a stranger to documentaries, but Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off sheds more light on the skating phenom than others have and shares insights that will delight more than just his fans. In his lively and sometimes moving film, director Sam Jones explains eloquently why he still reigns supreme in the skating world, holding on to a huge fan base — and why he won’t stop risking life and limb to master maneuvers very few others can.

Jones’ lineup for Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off includes skating sensations Hawk, his siblings, Stacy Peralta, Mike McGill, Rodney Mullin, Lance Mountain, and Steve Caballero. Jones gives us the ideal type of sports documentary – focusing on an individual athlete’s lifelong efforts and doing it with a good deal of insight, respect, affection, and no overt flattery. He takes his audience back to when Hawk was a scrawny boy being bullied at the skatepark to the man he is today – still hitting the ramps and defending his reputation. He manages to honor Hawk, brags on his skills, shows his softer and vulnerable sides, and digs deeper into the sport and what it takes to become a champion.

While the story begins with Hawk (in the present) attempting and failing at some insane stunt, it’s honest commentary from rivals and friends of Hawk that creates interesting perspectives and provides an engaging storyline. Archive footage of Hawk and others as they practice and compete supports the story and offers entertaining flashes to the past. What makes Jones’ view better than others is the deep look and emotional look at Hawk’s rousing successes and his touching low. We get Tony Hawk raw, and the journey with him is inspiring and moving.

I am giving Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off five stars, even though it might have been shorter. In reality, Hawk’s story is about more than an icon and his rise and falls – it’s about inspiration, determination, and perseverance. All of us can learn from an athlete like Hawk. He’s genuine, and his work ethic took him from a skinny, awkward, mediocre skater to a powerhouse influencer in more than just the skating world. Hawk shows us, as he learned it, how to deal with life’s spills – literal and emotional and Jones’ hand is solid in the telling.

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