Waiting for Lightning
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Routine docu about skateboard champ Danny Way.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A troubled kid learns to overcome adversity, faces huge challenges, and achieves success in a field he loves.
Positive Role Models
Danny Way is an example of someone who has overcome major challenges in his life and succeeded. But since the movie never interviews him directly, he's only seen from a distance and can seem reckless and withdrawn.
Violence & Scariness
A few spectacular skating crashes and injuries, which are all the more shocking because they're real. Viewers also hear stories of past domestic violence in the Way household, with the mother's boyfriends beating her up, as well as young Danny and his brother. (Nothing is actually shown.)
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Stories about Danny's mother, who remarried after her husband's death and began seeing a series of other men. Danny is shown to be a father, but his wife doesn't seem to appear in the movie.
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"S--t" is heard four times, and Danny lets out one "f--k" after a wipeout. "Ass" is used in a background song, and "oh my God" can be overheard at one point.
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Products & Purchases
Skaters have all kinds of corporate sponsors. DC Shoes is a major sponsor, with logos and mentions all over the place (the company apparently helped finance and/or produce the movie). The Monster energy drink logo is seen several times. Interviewees are seen wearing Red Bull, Mountain Dew, and Nike hats. Danny is briefly seen wearing a Bud Light shirt.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Danny's mother confesses to going through a period of heavy drinking and doing drugs. The movie includes some "dramatic recreation" footage to demonstrate this.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Waiting for Lightning is a documentary about pro skateboarder Danny Way. It includes some horrible scenes of crashes and injuries, as well as stories about violent incidents in Way's past involving his mother's boyfriends. His mother confesses to a period of excessive drinking and drugs, and viewers see "dramatic recreation" footage of this. Language is sparse, with interviewees using "s--t" four times, and Danny saying "f--k" once after a wipeout. Corporate sponsors, especially DC Shoes and Monster energy drink, are prevalent. The movie's biggest drawback is that it doesn't actually interview Way himself, so this is for die-hard fans only. Others would do better to check out the more inspirational Bones Brigade.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
During the days leading up to his monumental skateboard jump over the Great Wall of China in 2005, WAITING FOR LIGHTNING tells the story of skateboarder Danny Way. Born in Vista, Calif., Way's childhood was plagued by the death of his father, the departure of his beloved stepfather, his mother's series of violent boyfriends, his brother's serious injury, and other troubles. He found escape and success through skateboarding, inventing more and more elaborate stunts and building bigger and bigger ramps. It all leads up to the huge, potentially record-breaking, potentially deadly Great Wall jump. Will he make it?
Is It Any Good?
Rosenberg's filmmaking is as pedestrian as it comes. He slickly combines dramatic music, heavily edited talking heads, photos, silly dramatic re-creations, and some "cool"-looking skateboard footage. The construction is more like a TV reality show than a work of journalism or personal exploration; it's meant to keep you tuned in without actually revealing anything. The presence of skaters Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen only serves as a reminder of how good a documentary like Bones Brigade is by comparison.
"I cannot even imagine what was going through his mind," one interviewee says. Neither can anyone else, because WAITING FOR LIGHTNING director Jacob Rosenberg never really interviews Danny Way in person. The other interviewees speak breathlessly about his bravery and skills but rarely about his humanity. As a result, Way comes across like a cipher -- slightly aloof and distant, slightly reckless and stubborn, and not much like the role model he's painted to be.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Waiting for Lightning's violent crashes and accidents. What makes skateboarders push themselves so hard in such a dangerous sport?
Did the movie inspire you to do push yourself toward a specific goal? Is that goal related to skating or some other activity or sport? Can this attitude be applied to other things in life?
Does Danny Way seem like a role model for kids or teens?
- In theaters: December 7, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2013
- Cast: Danny Way, Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk
- Director: Jacob Rosenberg
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Company
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: dangerous sports action, some language and thematic material involving drugs and alcohol
- Last updated: April 2, 2023
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