I should have known better. The words ‘Australian Comedy' should have set off alarm bells. I mean, Crocodile Dundee, then what? But I'm an optimist and, to be honest, I'm going to watch pretty much any movie about a rock band that comes my way.
Spinal Tap captured the comedy of the rock n roll lifestyle back in '82 and has been much imitated, but never bested, since. However, no-one has really captured the drama, or the reality of that band dynamic without falling back onto lazy clichés – which is exactly what we get here. Shady managers, self-important musicians, drugged-out bits, casual sex, crazzzzzzy stunts and guitar posturing.
So, lets peel back the layers of this shitty onion of a flick. Firstly, it's an uninteresting story – a useless band make it big through hilarious circumstances with hilarious consequences. The script falls horribly flat and feels like it was written by a 16 year old working from a list of things that excite them about the world they've just discovered but this list is old and uninteresting to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the subject matter.
The cast is made up of unknowns and there is a reason that these people are, and shall remain, unknown. Too many characters, too indistinguishable, too talky. It feels like every shitty American indie film that seeped out in that post-Clerks mid-90s quagmire of ‘I have a camera and some cool buddies, lets hit Sundance!' assholery.
Here's the surprise, it's directed by Alex Proyas. Writer/Director of Dark City and The Crow, Murderer of Brandon Lee! Also director of loads of music videos. This guy has talent and awesome visual style. He made I, Robot. He is a "big" director. So what happens when he takes the reigns of a little indie film about a garage band in his hometown of Sydney? Answer: He gets bored. He seems to ignore the script and the performances and instead wedge himself, the director, in as one of the characters. Packed with utterly unnecessary CGI sequences, inexplicable slow-mo and unexplained periods of black and white, it comes off like some bizarre episode of Ally McBeal.
It's a bizarre little mess, when a no-budget film has money pumped into it. The soundtrack, again reflects the choices of a wide-eyed teenager. Songs we've all heard a thousand times – tired, painfully obvious choices are layered over every spare dialogue-free second. "alright" by Supergrass, "Its a long way…" by ACDC, "Boys don't cry" by The Cure, "That's Entertainment" by The Jam – you don't need to see the film to know where and how these tracks are used.
So, you get an uninteresting story that is layered with unwelcome distractions. I'm bored of thinking about it.
Truly, truly horrible.
Go buy ‘Slade in Flame' instead.
- Jon Spira | 2005-01-19