Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains Reviews

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April 23, 2019
This is an absolutely sensational film that captures the liberating power, passion and fuckedupness of rocknroll and its roots as a response to social and personal dysfunction. The performances are extraordinary, both hilarious and moving. The writing is witheringly on point and the music is absolutely raw and real. I mean, the band is guys from the Clash and the Sex Pistols for crissakes led by an equally savage teenage Ray Winstone. An absolute underground classic that should not be missed. Diane Lane at only 15 is astonishing good. The character she creates is gloriously badass and utterly realistic. Fee Waybill of The Tubes is ludicrously funny satirizing 70s rock stars and the entire films serves as a punk rock evisceration of bullshit at every level of society, excusing absolutely no one. It is simply laughable to read the 'top critics' reviews of this film. They would have been the first to have been skewered had they dared to come near the talented risktakers who actually made this film, which was so appalling to tastemakers
that it was locked up for a good 30 years and to this day almost nobody has seen it. But if you have an ounce of resentment or rebellion in you, you should. The relentless takedown of mainstream media in the film is far far ahead of its time, as was the in your face punk rock feminism the film enacts.

One last thing. Note that the completely incongruous and confusing ending was tacked on by the studio in a last minute attempt to salvage what they saw as a dangerously threatening film. this pwoer play led the writer of the film to use a pseudonym because she objected to being associated with the studio's corruption of the film's message. ignore the ending.
½ March 25, 2019
Whether with the band or the movie, the music itself hardly matters´┐ 1/2"though there is something to my ears far more punk rock about a trio without drums than the usual garage combo´┐ 1/2"rather, what takes center stage here is the sheer, visceral attitude. Led by the always-but-never-more-spunky (or skunky) Lane in a performance that embodies what it means to be called "fierce," the film gives voice (albeit wobbly and off key at times) to the frustration and rage of young women everywhere, an angry and necessary cry against misogyny whether in the early Eighties or today. Yet the moral here is not merely a celebration of feminine sexuality or a neoliberal parable about representation, for the filmmakers also take aim at how celebrity culture and late capitalism devour the rebel spirit of youth only to spit it back out as tepid and safe---something, fortunately, the movie itself never falls prey to.
April 12, 2017
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains" is a magnificent retro experience, but far from a competent feature film. Still, even with the plot in complete disarray and the budget filmmaking limitations revealed all too easily, the picture remains a curiosity and an essential musical mile marker.
April 18, 2016
"Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains" has been referred to as the music industry satire that never was (release was inept back in 1981, resulting in a late-in-life cult following), but I'm more struck with the notion that the film is the music industry satire that shouldn't have been. Taking more established versions of the subgenre into consideration (Brian De Palma's bizarre "Phantom of the Paradise" instantaneously comes to mind), "The Fabulous Stains" is all attitude and no depth - it should be more vicious in its commentary, should have a catchier soundtrack, and should develop characters that prove themselves to be more than just placeholders for the plot to stand up straight.
But, alas, "The Fabulous Stains" is never the parodical minx it clearly sets out to be, failing in its every move besides its invention of Corinne Burns, the haughty heroine of the film whose small-time iconhood suits her well. The movie revolves around the thorny rise to fame of its titular band, a girl group of The Runaways caliber minus the talent. With Diane Lane giving a killer performances as Burns, the frontwoman, some of the depiction is visceral and inspired - but the ineffectual establishment of the story by screenwriter Nancy Dowd makes everything slightly soggy.
Dowd's biggest mistake derives from the way we never really feel the moment in which Burns decides that the rock 'n' roll lifestyle is for her. We know that her mother recently died, that she hates school, and that rebellion is paramount in her existence. We do get a glimpse of her going to a concert and having the time of her life. That, most likely, is what Dowd believes to be her come to Jesus moment. But that quick representation is thin and unpersuasive; there's an overall feeling that Corinne Burns and her friends become rock stars because they can, and that deteriorates the film's attempts to dig in deep.
None of The Stains know how to play their instruments, anyway. They merely ask the manager of a couple of flagging acts stopping by their town if a joint tour is an option. Agreement is made and the road is hit, though it's a rocky one that isn't traveled upon all too successfully. Burns's pissed off 'tude leaves audiences revolted, their music too awful to make an excuse for acerbic behavior. But as time wears on, Burns's loud mouthed messages (and wild attire) begin to appeal to disaffected teenage girls around the country. Backlash, though, is a veritable possibility, considering The Stains's most popular tune bashes 9-5 culture when they're working young women themselves.
But "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains" is never much more than a great idea, characterizing itself as an unconvincing take on overnight stardom too humorless and too shaky to have much of an impact. I suppose it all is meant to be a stinging response to the idiotic, exhaustible nature of fleeting era definers (one must look in the direction of the Sex Pistols, of Bow Wow Wow, for example). But Dowd's writing is not astute enough to support such lofty ambitions, and the soundtrack is too stale, too riot grrl lite, for toe-tapping or anything resembling our own love of The Stains.
I can see a better film lurking underneath "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains's" flashy exterior, and its lacking of a punch can only be described as disappointing, especially in the face of Lane's extraordinary performance. But analyzing the frightening characteristics of fame, specifically in the area of music, is not such an easy thing to do. While "The Fabulous Stains" has admirable aspiration, Underdeveloped is its middle name, and it's a shame that potential turns to waste as time passes.
½ March 1, 2015
A neat little punk movie
September 13, 2014
Tonally all over the place with a non-sensical plot. Yeah, it's a satire, but it's made like shit and tramples all over the point with weird choices in character.
April 15, 2014
Finally saw it, pretty good, cult classic midnight movie type.
March 23, 2013
Hacko shitto boring fucking superficial Hollywood. Polar opposite of punk. Performances are shit.
July 21, 2012
Network + Spinal Tap
July 16, 2012
After watching this punk rock movie to top all punk rock movies, I wondered why the hell I never heard of it before stumbling upon it on some Craigslist DVD fire sale. It's a really fantastic movie that satires and comments on the fundamental hypocrisy of a successful punk rock band (you can't fight the establishment if you have to enlist with the establishment in order to make any money whatsoever). Despite the brisk 87 minute runtime, it does a lot of cool things, least of which is introducing us to Diane Lane, Laura Dern, and Ray Winstone. The film has a lot of attitude, and you don't always like the characters, but like The Stains themselves, confidence in execution make up for other potentially glaring shortcomings. A must-see if a raw low-budget Almost Famous sounds appealing to you or if females rebelling against gendered expectations sounds cool instead of boring.
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2012
A punk rocker who has very little talent becomes a cult icon.
Netflix identified this film as a satire, and throughout most of the film, I tried to figure out what it was satirizing. I guess I can see it as a satire of our culture's gullible embrasure of fads, particularly fads that embrace the darker side of life: I can see bits of Kurt Cobain and the goth/punk movements in Corinne Burns and her followers. But if that was the film's subject, then I think there should have been greater attention paid to the fans and their foolish motivations for remaking themselves in Corinne's image. As it is, the film stays on Corinne and her relationship with Billy and the trials of stardom. But she strikes me as a thoroughly uninteresting character, most of the time acting like a petulant child and a hypocrite, claiming she doesn't "put out" but hopping into bed with Billy despite the lack of chemistry or feeling between them. If she's so willing to sleep her way to stardom, then how can she try to pass herself off as a feminist figure. Diane Lane's performance is solid; the mistake is in the character's construction by the writer and director.
Overall, this is an uninspired film, and the focus of whatever satire is there wanders and is imprecise.
June 7, 2012
classic new wave movie starring a bratty teenage Diane Lane and Tubes leader Fee Waybil. good luck on finding this gem ANYWHERE....
June 4, 2012
The best movie about a girl rock band I've seen. Great cast and tunes and drama.
½ April 30, 2012
Fun as a period piece about the influence of punk rock--although not mentioned by name--but not much else. Diane Lane & Laure Dern are impossibly young! Cool live performances from members of punk giants the Sex Pistols and the Clash.
½ March 10, 2012
adorable and true, even if it's predictable. Listening to the commentary by Diane Lane and Laura Dern on the DVD is great if you're a fan of that period in film and music.

See this movie if you have even a passing interest in the riot grrl thing. I swear that the Stains sound like they're on K records. Chicken or egg anyone?
½ July 2, 2011
Diane Lane and Ray Winstone carry this movie. They provide heart and soul to what could have been an uneventful biopic. Props to Christine Lahti for a touching performance as Aunt Linda.
June 4, 2011
I can't believe I have never seen this movie! Loved it!
April 11, 2011
"I'm perfect! But nobody in this shithole gets me, because I don't put out!"
March 20, 2011
Nice little satire on the music industry. Everyone will be amazed to see a very young Diane Lane and Laura Dern, but I was more interested in Ray Winstone fronting the band of Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Paul Simonon. Their complaining throughout the movie is the most entertaining thing.
½ March 13, 2011
Diane Lane's acting was superb in this film. The musical appearances were amusing as well.
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