Rock on. Marky Mark goes all heavy metal on us...
SHADOWS AWARD: BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Beth Grant |
dir Stephen Herek
scr John Stockwell
with Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Spall, Dominic West, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Beth Grant, Michael Shamus Wiles, Matthew Glave, Rachel Hunter, Jason Bonham, Jeff Pilson
release US 7.Sep.01; UK 11.Jan.02
While not in the same league as either This Is Spinal Tap or Almost Famous, this rock-band movie is at least thoroughly entertaining. Excellent performances and decent music help hold our interest as the story gets increasingly trite. It's the mid-80s: Chris Cole (Wahlberg) is a photocopy repair man who sings in a tribute band, mimicking exactly the performance of his hero, Steel Dragon lead singer Bobby Beers (Flemyng). But Bobby is about to be sent packing ... and a videotape of Chris' performance convinces the rest of the band (West, Bonham, Pilson) and their manager (Spall) to give Chris a shot. Soon he's performing alongside his heroes, with his girlfriend/manager (Aniston) along for the ride. Then all the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll start to take their toll.
The problem with this film is its complete and utter lack of ambition--it never even tries to examine any of the themes involved, the rock-star excess is simplistically cautionary and the romantic tensions are screenwriting-by-numbers. But the film still manages to win us over, and most of the credit goes to Wahlberg for yet another winning performance as the ordinary guy who suddenly finds himself living out his wildest dream. His sense of naive exhilaration is contagious; we feel it with him, building on the energetic concert scenes and giving the behind-the-scenes stuff some human connection. Aniston is better than usual, even though she still just plays herself, but with a tiny spark we don't often see. Brits Spall, Flemyng and West give terrific, textured support, as does the scene-stealing Grant as Chris' gung ho mom. But the film has absolutely no teeth--it simplifies and glosses over any true grit in lieu of the kind of predictable back-stage moralising you might see in a Saturday morning cartoon. Fortunately, by the time the film dissolves into a dull, formulaic romance, Walhberg and the film's overriding charm keep us from minding too terribly much.
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