Waiting for Lightning Jacob Rosenberg

Waiting for Lightning Jacob Rosenberg
4
The premise of Jacob Rosenberg's documentary about skateboarding aficionado Danny Way is that of an overblown stunt. Having beat world records for jumping, leaped from a helicopter onto a ramp and won an abundance of contests and titles, in addition to creating the now-common large scale vert ramp used in competition at the X-Games, his next challenge was to jump the Great Wall of China. Ignoring the motivations behind wanting to jump a landmark — not once does anyone compare it to a dog's need to mark his/her territory or gangland spray paint signature taggings — some babble comes about in the form of Chinese freedom, or lack thereof, and pushing oneself to the limit. After this framing device is established, Rosenberg steps back with a traditionalist talking head documentary about Danny Way's white trash upbringing, with an oft-absent, drug addict mother and an ever-shifting series of male role models. We learn, unsurprisingly, that Way used skateboarding as a mode of identity in his youth, working hard at it primarily to fit into various social groups and receive validation where otherwise there was none. Since most of the interview subjects are friends and family, Way's inconsiderate and transparent childhood illegalities and desperate peer group posturing are labelled as essential — risk-takers just need to find their channel of expression — rather than embarrassing and insincere. The trajectory is that of the persistence of the human spirit, showing Way's progression through the skateboarding world, overcoming injuries and dealing with life's many blows, in the form of death and abandonment. Unfortunately, save a rather standard white trash upbringing, there's nothing overly compelling about Way's life and his need to add big stunts to his laundry list of things to brag about is presented only as "awesome" in Rosenberg's doc, rather than being assessed for what it actually is. There is an abundance of stock skateboarding footage for fans, in addition to some behind-the-scenes material at the X-Games and almost an hour of deleted scenes on the DVD, but Waiting for Lightning is otherwise an inflated and often repetitive hagiography about a pretty bland documentary subject. (Mongrel Media)