SXSW Film Review: Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

Reconciling the legend with the man in this life-spanning story

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

When your name is practically synonymous with what you do, an in-depth, career-encapsulating documentary seems like an inevitability. That’s why Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Come Off, the definitive life-spanning story of skateboarding’s most legendary superstar, feels like a long time coming.

Hawk’s legacy is so all-encompassing that he’s a cultural icon even for those that don’t know a McTwist from a Madonna. But a lifetime of awards from competitions, a video game franchise that helped define an entire gaming genre, and the influence to finance skateparks all across the country don’t come without sacrifice – or, in Hawk’s case, a lot of bones that at 53 he continues to break (it should be no surprise he showed up with a broken leg at the SXSW premiere).

Director Sam Jones marks this as a special quality about Hawk throughout the documentary: His determination to push himself has yet to fade. He simply doesn’t know anything else other than taking his body to the breaking point to achieve the ideals he sets for himself. This is demonstrated through a true treasure trove of thrilling archival footage, from Hawk’s days as a kid just starting to find his place within the community, all the way through his continued drive once he reaches pantheon status with droves of fans showing up to see him ride. Peers like Stacy Peralta and Rodney Mullen provide insight and talk about Hawk like an enigma within their field; even they have never seen anyone like him.

But Hawk’s endless feats represent more than just adept athleticism. The drained pools, half-pipes, and punk-rock skater culture that he inhabits become a more all-encompassing proving ground of putting your mind to something and following through, of getting back up after you fall down. Moreover, they become a test of the ability to be a reputable presence within the lives of your loved ones when your passion and career is one that demands so much. Though he pushes himself to the breaking point to pull off his tricks, the ultimate lessons Hawk learns throughout the doc are the more personal matters of trying to fit in, adapting to fame, and being there for his family. He transforms from an amateur skater to a cultural icon and then to something even bigger: a man who can be proud of the ways he’s grown and matured for his family.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off

Documentary Spotlight, World Premiere
Online: March 13, 9am-March 15, 9am

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

South by Southwest Is Headed to London
South by Southwest Is Headed to London
Culture fest adds third venue as global expansion continues

Richard Whittaker, May 8, 2024

Court of Appeals Sides With SXSW in Insurance Lawsuit
Court of Appeals Sides With SXSW in Insurance Lawsuit
Reverses previous decision in insurance company's favor

Carys Anderson, March 26, 2024

More by Trace Sauveur
Late Night With the Devil
Supernatural satire shows the hellish price of success

March 22, 2024

Retirees meet E.T. in this lackluster but well-performed dramedy

Aug. 11, 2023


SXSW, SXSW 2022, SXSW Film 2022, Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, Tony Hawk

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle