When a new production rolls out of the house of Crailtap, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and see what’s going on. Ever since the original cluster of skaters broke out from Rocco and the World Industries empire, I was a devotee for life. As a huge World fan, I was sad to see my favourite riders move away from the skate company that had influenced my buying habits for many years, but at the same time I was excited to see what they’d come up with. The first series of Girl boards confused me slightly (I still recall being asked “Why have you got the international symbol for a female toilet on your skateboard?”), but I went with it. Fuck it, I was enough of a social outcast at school anyway: endorsing girls’ bathrooms wasn’t going to damage it any further. When Chocolate launched shortly after, it just solidified my new-found loyalty. Ever since those early days, Girl, Chocolate and the all people behind the Crailtap collection of skate companies have remained at the top of the pile for me.
Family is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s a genuine feeling you get when you see these guys on video or in the magazines. Most of them skate together, the older guys look out for the younger ones and it comes across as an overall-supportive environment. Most importantly, especially when watching their video productions, the skaters are amazing.
So when the first rumblings of a new full-length film from these guys reached me, I had to control my excitement. I knew it’d be good – I’d have preordered it right there and then – but I also knew there’d be a wait first. Anyone who remembers the torturous process in waiting for Lakai’s ‘Fully Flared‘ would know of the mental anguish. After working out why the new film was called ‘Pretty Sweet’ (Girls are pretty and Chocolate is sweet, unless you’re looking at my ex-wife and you’re on the diabetic candy), I spotted a countdown timer appeared on the specially-allocated website, and watched the trailers as they began popping up. By the time the official full-length trailer was floating around on YouTube, I was feverish. A slightly-unusual time for the UK premiere meant I’d have to sit that one out due to work issues, but with an iTunes release only 10 days away, I figured I could wait. I’ll be ordering the DVD from one of the true skate shops here in the UK (due around the 3rd December), but I stayed up until 00:00 on the 27th to purchase the iTunes download anyway. I ain’t waiting any longer.
Or perhaps I am, because at the time of writing, there are still 27 minutes left on my download. All that HD goodness takes a while to pipe through. Dammit. I should add quickly that I hate iTunes downloads and will be buying the full DVD as soon as it’s available in the UK. Not only has the DVD got a bonus disc and a booklet, but iTunes makes it impossible to do frame-by-frame analysis (since they removed the option to view your purchase in Quicktime) and screengrabbing is really hard because of that fucking iTunes video controller. Grrr.
– 12 hours + 3 back-to-back viewings later –
Wow. I walked away with a different feeling than when I’d first watched ‘Fully Flared’, but ‘Pretty Sweet’ is just as epic. And that’s the word I’m going to use: epic. You can put this video up against any of the free-to-view online parts from the past few years, but nothing comes close to the feeling of epicness that this video brings. You already know that the production values are off the scale (it is Spike Jonze and freinds here, after all), but the skating is so good and overwhelming that it’s hard to put it into words. The word ‘epic’ distils my thoughts into four characters for you.
So, what’s in these 78 minutes? A lot.
After an Orson Welles-inspired intro sequence (one fluid, real-time shot that eventually ties everyone together), there’s an opening montage with lots of great stuff in it… and then we’re straight into Vincent Alvarez’s section. A relatively recent addition to the Chocolate roster, he is more than worthy of owning the first slot in the video. With a soundtrack of three different songs behind him, everything in his path gets annihilated. High speed antics never looked so good, especially when there’s a hefty dose of technicality involved. Switch 180° fakie 5-0 down a rail is no joke. Fakie bigger-flip down four? Yes. Plenty of crazy twisty-turny boardslide stuff as well and some nice lines. Oh – and he almost gets hit by several cars (including one moment of trickery that made me dribble hot tea into my lap). Enough spoilers: he’s more than worthy of his place here.
I was definitely excited about Cory Kennedy’s part – and it surpassed my expectations. Loads and loads of great tricks – a killer frontside half cab to frontside feeble down a rail rounds his part off, but there’s WAY more good stuff beforehand (including a Backside tailslide-to-kickflip-to-backside tailslide that made blood froth out of my nose) – and he always appears to be enjoying himself. I also liked the choice of Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’ for his music. I reckon my father would approve as well.
Raven Tershy’s up next and call me an idiot, because I was surprised how much real street footage he had here. All good stuff and fits in nicely with his destruction of the parks that I was expecting. Dude takes some proper slams and then just gets up and finishes the job as planned. Mike Mo Capaldi might have been plagued with a few injuries over the past years, but his section is an impressive continuation of his Lakai video part: a lot of flippery, some featherfooted manual work and lots of lines where he’ll casually throw in some Battle at the Berrics type tomfoolery. I can’t quite work out how he does the half-impossible underflip stuff, but that’s because it’s done at speed and in lines as though it’s a normal trick that anyone can do. Loads of great stuff in this section (and he’s still the king of the switch 360° flip).
Jeron Wilson and Brandon Biebel share a killer part: both put some work into this and it shows. Jeron might be one of the older OG guys on the team, but he makes it clear that he’s still on the money. When Biebel isn’t making cameramen fall over, he’s doing tech lines, advanced manual combos, long grinds and backside 180° –> fakie nosegrind –> fakie bigspins out on ledges. Still killing it. And skating to Meek Mill and Rick Ross didn’t do any harm either. Tupac Back!
Kenny Anderson is one hell of a smooth skater. Every single trick is done with perfect style and made to look easy. Backside Noseblunt Slide with a 270° out is the definition of the term ‘buttery’ and even powerslides look like he’s carving up a wave. One of my favourites, without a doubt. Chris Roberts and Gino Iannucci then join in the same section – relatively brief appearances and the Gino fans will be crying that he’s only got four tricks here, but it’s still quality – and then Daniel Castillo shows us a couple of tricks just before Justin Eldridge’s efforts (which I really enjoyed). Back to Kenny for a few more bangers and we’re done. I really enjoyed this section and the initial disappointment of seeing only brief appearances from a couple of my favourite skaters was alleviated by the standard of the skating. I liked the use of the Justice track as well.
If you were tiring of the positive outlook on this review, then you might want to close the page, because Stevie Perez has a fucking GREAT section. I hadn’t seen that much of him before this part, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but… wow. Stevie’s real good. Kicking things off with ‘Holy Ghost’ by The Bar-Kays was a great decision, and Stevie’s onslaught is relentless. Rails, gaps, manuals… All are handled properly, with speed and style and a smile. He does the best kickflip frontside crooked nollie flip out and not content with boardsliding over a gap in a handrail, he steps it up to feeble at the end. The yelling at the end of his part is more than justified after his last trick. Super good, Stevie.
Alex Olson’s up next and although it’s a shared part, it’s no less impressive as a result. Loads of great tricks get bumped up a notch as he takes them higher and further than most. His schoolyard picnic table rampage is particularly memorable and he throws in some really good-looking tech into his section too. Mike Carroll is the feeble combination master and still skates with the same flawless style we’ve always loved. Brian Anderson is amazing and boneless smith grinds a big rail, with an amusing background t-shirt appearance that will stoke online nonsense for years to come. Add a quick appearance from Rick McCrank (who was apparently injured for a while) and you’ve got a great four-skater section. A Beastie Boys musical accompaniment is, in my opinion, a fitting tribute to MCA and mentally took me back to the days of ‘Questionable’.
Jesus Fernandez skates to the sounds of the Gypsy Kings and gets technical in a big way: some of the stuff he does is absolutely ridiculous (backside smith to inward heel was particularly nice as was the backside 270° ollie to tailslide to backside 270° ollie flip out). Was that a Paulo Diaz sighting I caught there for a second? Chico Brenes joins in for some slick nollie/switch heel action (and a dope backside 360° out of that big red metal thing we’ve seen everywhere the past few months).
Elijah Berle skates big and drives it home that the new additions to the team were totally valid: he does a perfect impossible 50-50 down a hubba, polejam 50-50s over a box thing into the street, smiths a huge red rail… and loads more. His ended is massive and looks scary from the second angle.
Everyone looks like they hate Baby B (AKA Jack Black) when he’s disrupting a session, although he eventually gets the goods. You’ll understand what I’m babbling on about when you see this bit. I thought Marc Johnson was going to snap and punch him at one point. Speaking on Marc Johnson, his part’s up next. And mother of hell it’s good. Starting off with the best backside noseblunt slide you will EVER see, it’s the beginning of one of my favourite sections of the whole video. When he’s not burying his board in dirt, he’s doing nollie lasers out of nose manuals or impossibles out of 5-0s. An incredibly good section and a strong reason for buying the video alone. Special mention to the amazing fakie 5-0 he does on a yellow metal gate. It’s the best you’ll ever see.
Who’s next? Sean Malto, that’s who. You might have got used to seeing him destroy ready-made street courses but don’t think for a second that he left the streets behind in the process. His infamous grinding skills get taken to new levels (and his opening inside-the-house 50-50 is amazing) and his last trick is incredibly good. If you feel like I’ve shortchanged you on my review of Malto’s section, then that’s because you need to see it for yourself to truly appreciate it.
And then we have Guy Mariano’s part. Unless you’ve been hiding in a forest for the past few weeks, you’ll have heard murmurings along the lines of ‘Skater of the Year’ and other such terms being thrown around. All I can really say is that they’re all well-deserved. After throwing down one of the best video parts ever in ‘Fully Flared’, Guy Mariano delivers yet again. Plenty of shove-it flippery out of tailslide, noseslides and other such things, but you’re going to need to rewatch it a few times to grasp the bulk of it. Eric Koston shows up for a few tricks here and there too, but I’m gonna assume that we’ll see the fruits of his recent labours in the forthcoming Nike video. I loved seeing the video footage of Guy returning to the same handrail spot he ended his ‘Video Days’ part with as well. I’m not gonna name specific tricks and spoil any of it for you… but his ender… Goddamn. You haven’t seen that before.
The ending credits are always good fun in Spike’s videos, and this is no exception. The first part is great – Cory Kennedy does a 360° flip on a snakeboard for Chrissakes – but the little song with all the legendary skaters in is fucking amazing! I’ve got no idea why but it actually made me get a lump in my throat (resisted the full onion eyes though). So many great people. A great little tribute to have at the end and it was good to see Kareem is still around!
So, that’s probably the briefest summary I could put together that I feel does some kind of justice to ‘Pretty Sweet’. It’s incredibly good. I loved the editing, camera angles, multiple views, music – and the skating. It was a slight shame not to see Devine Calloway and Anthony Pappalardo on here, but maybe they’ll turn up in the extras DVD. The social media and messageboards will no doubt be full of comments, but you can be assured that you won’t be able to pass judgement without buying this and watching it for yourself. Downloading a torrented copy won’t do it any justice at all.
Hats off to everyone involved – even those who didn’t have full sections, because it’s clearly that ‘family vibe’ DNA that has made for such a great team. Spike, Ty, Cory, Rick, Mike, Megan, Meza, everyone: we’re not worthy.
– I’ll post an update on the DVD content once I’ve picked it up –
Go to your local skate store and pick up the DVD… but if you can’t wait, then you’ll find it here on iTunes.