Waiting For Lightning (PG-13)

Documentary 96 December 7, 2012
By Pete Vonder Haar
Early in Waiting for Lightning, skateboarder Greg Hunt utters a surprising truth as he marvels at the giant ramp Danny Way has put together in order to jump the Great Wall of China: "They would never let anyone build something like that here." It's a throwaway remark that's also an incisive comment on both our domestic nanny state and China's, how you say, relaxed regulatory environment. You might wish for more observations like that in Waiting for Lightning, or at least more serious skating thrills, but the rest is pretty boilerplate doc material. Director Jacob Rosenberg dutifully intercuts scenes of Way's preparation for the Great Wall jump with obligatory flashbacks to his early skateboarding years at Del Mar Skate Ranch, wellspring of such famous boarders as Christian Hosoi and Tony Hawk. We're also treated to dramatic re-enactments of his tumultuous childhood: Way’s biological father, Dennis, died under mysterious circumstances in jail, and his mother, Mary, embarked on a series of drug-fueled liaisons when her son was a teenager. Through skating, Way gained renown and a series of father figures. But Rosenberg never really connects the dots between the young skater's lack of a steady, fatherly influence-- hardly unheard of in modern society-- and his need to put himself in harm's way, whether by "dropping in" out of a helicopter or vaulting over one of the true wonders of the world. The film's centerpiece is the Great Wall jump, but the filmmakers never find any greater motivation for the stunt other than one comment from Way on a flight to China in 2005: "I'm gonna jump over that." As justification goes, it's not even a "because it’s there."
Jacob Rosenberg Danny Way, Travis Pastrana, Laird Hamilton, Rodney Mullen, Mat Hoffman, Ken Block, Rob Dyrdek, Tony Hawk Bret Anthony Johnston Mouse McCoy, Scott Waugh, Hana Ripperger-Suhler, Jacob Rosenberg, Max Leitman Samuel Goldwyn Films

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