Posted on 1/15/13 09:50 PM
It's Funny, 'Cause the Square Was in Spinal Tap
There was a time, many years ago, when Adam Sandler did funny little roles in comedies starring other people, and he improved the movie with his presence. The guy he was playing was usually nice, though almost always out of it, and while he didn't react to anything like a normal human being, he somehow managed to help make things better. It got a little repetitive; he was That Guy in pretty much ever movie he made. But you didn't want to throw anything at him, and it was often a genuine pleasure to see him appear onscreen. Yeah, okay, he only did that about a half-dozen times. However, wasn't playing the same character for an onscreen total of about fifteen minutes at a time per picture better than playing the same character for two excruciating hours wherein no one laughs? I mean, he's replacing Eddie Murphy as the go-to guy for Razzie nominations, last year winning something like all of them.
Chazz (Brendan Fraser) is the leader of a band called The Lone Rangers. He desperately wants to make it big, in part because he thinks life will then be better for his girlfriend, Kayla (Amy Locane--she was in Cry-Baby). He loves her, but she thinks he's a loser, and she kicks him out. Again. Chazz has tried to get record company executives to listen to the band's demo tape, but no luck. Then at a concert, he and the others--Rex (Steve Buscemi) and Pip (Adam Sandler)--hear a band say that they would not be a success now if they hadn't gotten their demo tape played on the radio by Ian (Joe Mantegna). So the guys decide they're going to break into the station and make him play it for them. They end up holding the station hostage--with water guns, back before they had the big colourful bits on them to make sure you can't do that anymore. While they're at it, they discover that the station is going to go easy listening--and there is no copy of their demo tape.
Every once in a while, when I'm watching a movie, I get distracted by something I know about the actors, and it takes me away from the characters. In this case, I was asking myself how the others hooked up with Rex, because Steve Buscemi is a good ten years older than the other two. I mean, they all seem more influenced by '80s heavy metal than any other genre, but still. They complain briefly about the music coming out of Seattle at the time, too, but I'm not sure where their orbits would have intersected to know that they have such things in common. It's made pretty clear that Chazz didn't know the others in high school, which is the normal place to meet people with whom you seemingly would have nothing in common. Certainly none of these guys went to college. I suppose they met at a club, but how could they talk enough at a club to get to know one another? I know I'm not supposed to think about these things, but I couldn't help it. Of course, I'm also very tired.
This is one of that rarest of things, a movie with which my old roommate Karyn was obsessed but which I never actually saw. (As I recall, she had a Thing for Brendan Fraser.) I'm pretty sure she had the soundtrack, though it wasn't one of which I was especially fond. (I preferred that Seattle music, as it happens.) She and I had a fair number of movies that we both liked, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how divergent our tastes really were. Then again, I've never been sure how much she really liked the movies she said she liked. I think it's entirely possible that she just said she did because she felt she ought to. I know that she claimed to like Tommy because a guy she had a Thing for liked it, and then she felt embarrassed when it turned out he only liked the stage show, not the movie. This, however, feels like exactly the sort of thing she really liked, not the stuff she felt someone with her intelligence and education about movies should like.
I know--that sound awfully snobby of me, given that I don't particularly like this movie. I will note that I am giving it, however marginally, a positive review. But yes, it still kind of is. Certainly I have some extremely snarky things to say about other films made by half the cast of this. (Poor Brendan Fraser; it's as though even he has forgotten that he can act!) However, I do think it's okay to like slightly more lowbrow fare. After all, there are some very bad, very silly movies that I do still love. And in fact, the greatest failing I saw in this movie was that it isn't thinking half so much as it's trying to convince you it is. It's been called a satire that isn't sure what it's satirizing, and that's not an unfair characterization. However, if you don't bother watching it as satire, and you just laugh where it wants you to love, it's probably a much more enjoyable movie. I sometimes regret that, even when I'm feeling seriously sleep deprived, I'm not able to do that most of the time.