The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.
Words: Brody Rossiter
A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Tas and Ben Pappas are two of Skateboarding history’s most successful and innovative personalities. The Australian brothers would redefine what it meant to be a vert skater throughout the 1990’s, not only pioneering a new aggressive yet technically accomplished style of skating, but also injecting a much-needed dose of raucous personality into the sport. However, new tricks weren’t the only things the brothers were experimenting with, as their ascent up the competition leaderboards brought with it an ever-increasing degree of infamy.
All This Mayhem documents The Pappas Brothers’ rise from Aussie skatepark obscurity to the world’s top two skateboarders both in terms of competition dominance and sheer ability – a journey which took very little time to complete. Unfortunately, this rapid arrival upon the scene also introduced a cocktail of alcohol, hard drugs and disposable income, a lethal formula that would eventually cost the brothers their talents, their families and ultimately their freedom.
Interestingly, skateboarding’s most celebrated and well-known figurehead, Tony Hawk, is the most tangible example of a villain within the documentary; his clean-cut persona and “classic” style of skating a clear juxtaposition to the Pappas’ ‘all or nothing’ style. Tas’ interview segments vividly recall the rivalry the brothers shared with Hawk, often through comedic anecdotes detailing Hawk’s unwillingness to pass the torch onto the brothers and tendency to greet defeat with copious amounts of bitchin’ and whining. Tas may not be the most reliable of narrators, but he and his brother were clearly breaking new ground on their boards – a fact never truly accepted by an increasingly mainstream skateboarding establishment constructed on the back of Hawk’s transition from skater to stuntman and the spectacle which accompanied it.
The Pappas’ grudge with Hawk and their disgraced fall from grace will undoubtedly provide a good deal for the average viewer to chew on, but skate culture lovers will be stoked with the in-depth breakdown of the 90’s sub-culture and its introduction familiar faces such as Danny Way through candid home video footage. A chaotic descent into tragedy and despair, All This Mayhem is an essential documentary in terms of both its shocking storytelling and its efforts to not absolve the brothers of their crimes, but reaffirm their undeniably vast but largely forgotten impact upon skateboarding.