Niche fests and cable networks will be the most hospitable environs for “Waiting for Lightning,” a slickly produced, unabashedly celebratory pic about professional skateboarder Danny Way. Admirers of helmer Jacob Rosenberg’s risk-taking, record-setting subject could boost homevid sales as well, though non-fans may prove immune to the charms of a documentary portrait that plays more like an authorized biography.Produced in association with DC Shoes (a company co-founded by Damon Way, the subject’s brother), “Lightning” alternates between extended stretches of life-storytelling, done with archival footage and talking-heads interviews, and the buildup to Way’s 2005 attempt, at age 31, to jump over the Great Wall of China on his skateboard (with the help of really, really big ramps). Rosenberg traces Way’s rise from broken-home survivor to international celebrity, drawing upon testimonials from family and friends including fellow skateboarding icon Tony Hawk. Though far from psychologically probing, the pic does suggest that Way’s lifelong obsession with pushing himself to the limit, and beyond, may stem from an urge to transcend childhood traumas and personal demons. On the other hand, “Lightning” also indicates he may just enjoy doing things that are totally gnarly.
A Bandito Brothers production in association with DC Shoes. Produced by Hana Ripperger-Suhler, Jacob Rosenberg, Max Leitman, Darryl Franklin. Executive producers, Mouse McCoy, Scott Waugh, Jay Pollak, Michael Mailis, Ray Ibe. Directed by Jacob Rosenberg.
Camera (color, HD), Michael Svitak; editor, Carol Martori; music, Nathan Furst; music supervisor, Rudy Chung. Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Documentary Spotlight), March 13, 2012. Running time: 87 MIN.
Danny Way, Gale Webb, Tony Hawk, Travis Pastrana, Mary O'Dea, Damon Way, Jim Ruonala, Ken Block, Rodney Mullen.