A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Abusive parents can ruin their children's adult lives, set terrible examples for their kids, and even set up a repeating cycle that can go on for generations.
Positive Role Models
Bing's intelligence, understanding, and compassion sets him on a path to help cope with and heal from a childhood of beatings and terror. He sees the same issues in his close friends and examines all their woes through the lens of a documentary camera. Several parents are described as brutally abusive.
Violence & Scariness
Young men recall either physical or psychological abuse from parents. One is reported to repeat such violence with his girlfriend, who describes her abuse and shows scars. A young boy is bullied and shoved at the skate park and an older skater yells at the bully.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teenaged couple live together and have a child. One boy describes finding his father's "vintage porn" stashed in a closet.
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"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," "suck," the "N" word, "ass," "d--k," "p---y," and "wuss."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Parties feature alcohol and marijuana use. The guys enjoy getting drunk and high. One youth struggles with alcohol abuse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Minding the Gap is an Oscar-nominated documentary made by one of three skateboarding friends about their friendship and the way coming from abusive homes brought and kept them together. Filmmaker Bing Liu observes and interviews his friends with a delicacy and sensitivity that make the trio compelling and their struggles seem both relatable and, sadly, preventable. Language, including "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," and the "N" word, is used freely throughout. Depression, hopelessness, financial woes, and aimlessness are constant undertones, even as the protagonists party and joyfully display their skateboarding skills. Tobacco and alcohol are consumed. The guys enjoy getting drunk and high. One youth struggles with alcohol abuse. A teenaged couple live together and have a child. One boy describes finding his father's "vintage porn" stashed in a closet. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Bing Liu's film is a love letter to friendship and to the skateboarding that he feels saved his sanity as he endured childhood abuse at the hands of his mother's sadistic husband. When he asks on camera why it took her so long to get out of the abusive 17-year relationship, and why she didn't protect Bing from the abuser, she's contrite and admits she didn't want to be alone. And so Minding the Gap explains to us the fundamental reality that everyone has his or her reasons, even for doing terrible things.
Teens viewers whose parental experiences are not as traumatic may be shocked, but will probably appreciate their own good fortune. And those who see themselves in Bing, Zack and Keire -- kids for whom calling the cops to negotiate family disputes is an ordinary event -- may feel less alone. Parents may feel that frequent references to violence at home, and the use of street language, marijuana, and alcohol, may make this inappropriate for tweens and young teens. That such abusive patterns may be repeated by abuse victims on their own children and spouses is unflinchingly clear in scenes that describe Zack's depression and hopelessness and his unlucky child. His almost-obsessive use of curse words suggests his struggle to find words that express his pain and confusion. One of the film's most jarring moments comes when Keire recalls being "disciplined" by his father and matter-of-factly notes, "They call it child abuse now."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.