Paulie’s Perspective – Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (2022)

Dir: Sam Jones

Starring: Tony Hawk; Stacy Peralta; Rodney Mullen

Documentary on HBO / HBOMAX

Wow Tony Hawk!  You know at my age, this guy was it. I mean, just the coolest guy in the world. He was skateboarding. I had no idea about any other skateboarder but Tony Hawk. So I was very exited to see this documentary about the legend. Yes, I played his video games, and I love them. Which is weird because I didn’t think I would. I don’t even skateboard! I was like, how exciting can going up and down a ramp be on a video game? Well it’s very exciting and addictive and ever since I played the first one, I always looked for the new ones and only bought his game. It was crazy. Like Jordan with his sneakers! 

Anyway – enough fanfare. This film is not a glory piece about Tony Hawk, and it’s not made to kiss his ass or put up a statue of him. The best part about this film is that Tony is in it. He tells his story, and he makes sure the whole story is told. Not like a Pamela Anderson thing where they read an article or see a sex tape and make a movie. This is Tony by Tony and I’m so glad it was done this way. 

Tony Hawk is that odd, once in a lifetime bridge between street and corporate. His name broke through suburbia and in all the kids’ homes all over the world, yes Europe too. He is that figure that can jump into board meetings and then back into the empty swimming pool and get some tricks in. Tony represents skateboarding and he has never forgotten that. He seems to walk that line and still be true to his peers, and help them out when he can and that in itself makes him a hero. 

Case in point – Tony has his peers in this movie. They all still talk to him, they all still admire him, and they sat down and told the truth about him. That is remarkable. No grudges, no betrayals, no hatred – and usually with an industry there is bound to be grudges – nope. No enemies in this group and that just astounds me. 

Anyway – so Stacy is interviewed throughout the whole film, just being asked about his thoughts on Tony and the whole industry and what happened. Stacy is the one who filmed the “kids” doing their skateboarding tricks in empty swimming pools and poorly made half pipes.  These videos would be passed around on VHS tapes, and soon make cult icons of the boys involved, which included  a still in high school Tony Hawk.  

These tapes would spark a global tour with Tony front and center among an amazing group of skateboarders, all around the same age. They went to Europe and all over North America – greeted like rock stars carrying this new sport ( which wasn’t really new) that was being done in a new way. 

Tony thought he hit the big time, got married, had kids, had houses, property, ramps – everything. Then, as all things do with legends, the bottom dropped out. Skateboarding was no longer hip – Tony had no appearances booked, no tours, scheduled, and his career was just dead in the water. His wife became the bread winner as he stayed home, watched his kids – and you guessed it, skated.

The consistent quality Tony has with other legends is his self-discipline to his craft. Every morning, at 7am, with no callers, no jobs, no inquiries, no bookings – he woke up and skated.  Every morning, his wife told him to get a new job and give up skateboarding. Tony skated, and skated and skated. No future ahead, no plans, no plan B in case skateboarding didn’t work out. He just skated while his wife worked, and he stayed home, broke, with bills piling up. 

Enter ESPN”s X Games. They created a huge platform for skateboarders, BMX, Motorcross tricks – everything and guess who was at the front of that – Tony Hawk.  Tony went on to win a ton of gold medals at at the X Games and became a household name to corporate and to peers and suburban kids. 

After that Tony went on tour with BMX bikers and Motorcross superstars around the globe – and packed in entire arenas everywhere they went. Tony Hawk’s name was on the bill, he was headlining, this was his tour. It was an enormous success – and then Activison calls with a video game idea. The rest cements his legacy. 

His peers testify to Tony’s insane love for skating, and his insane strength of discipline. He loves the sport, and it loves him right back. Friends recount tales of Tony’s numerous injuries;  his neck, back, ribs, fingers, shoulders, just about every part of him has been injured, contorted or jammed at one point in time. 

This doc is an amazing thing to show kids who have a passion for something. To show that if you keep at it, it will pay off. If you keep practicing, you will get good at it. People will tell you to stop, to find something else  but if you love it, you really have no choice. 

Tony is an amazing example of what can happen when you love something dearly, and never give up on it. At 2 hours and 15 minutes this doc is very watchable and very enjoyable. To take a peek into an era that was amazing, exciting and may never come around again, and to look at a man, who is just as amazing and whose talent and determination will definitely never come around again.