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Minding the Gap

Feb 4, 2019

A taste of real skateboarding and real decline in a dwindling mid-west city.

Minding the Gap

Grade: A-

Director: Bing Liu

Screenplay: Documentary

Cast: Kiere Johnson, Zack Mulligan

Runtime: 1 hr 33min

By: John DeSando

"Skateboarding is more of a family than my family." A Skateboarder

Director Bing Liu’s Hulu-oroginal documentary Minding the Gap traces his and his buddies early adolescent love affair with skateboards through early adulthood where a baby or a job can change that carefree lifestyle. Bing and co-editor Joshua Altman hit all the right beats with smooth sailing boards and turbulent family life, just like the rest of us except we might us bicycles.

Although home base Rockford, Illinois, is in an economic downturn, and the working-class families are barely making it, Zach sucks down 12 packs with ease and fathers a boy with a care both exemplary and fraught with a contentious wife, 21-year-old Nina. Nothing new here, for we all are touched by familial challenges.

It’s just that at times Bing Liu makes it all seem effortless or without consequences, like the speeding boards and his speeding camera right behind: no cops and no crashes. The real talent is to make the depressing city and disoriented principals seem happy enough and taken care of, not always the reality but a necessary romance.

Skateboarders will love the respect this doc gives their craft, and civilians will delight in the realism, grit, and love that eventuate from the grim background of a city in decline. The boarders are on the rise, with long lives of friendship ahead of them:

“This device cures heartbreak.” A saying on the edge of a board.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com