Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Film Review: ROADIE (1980, Alan Rudolph)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 106 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Alan Rudolph (MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, AFTERGLOW). Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter, Art Carney, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison, Debbie Harry and Blondie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Hank Williams Jr., Peter Frampton, Kurtwood Smith (RAMBO III, ROBOCOP, THAT 70's SHOW) in a Security Guard cameo.
Tag-lines: "The story of a boy and his equipment."
Best one-liner: "Well that's a strange and wondrous tale, son, but like everything else, it'll work if you let it." (said by an insane Art Carney).

A meandering, slightly mediocre, BLUES BROTHERS-style, rock 'n roll pileup of a movie that pays the bills by phoning in some car wrecks and barroom brawls, but justifies its cultish appeal via a number of truly, befittingly insane elements.

Hey, at least it's better than MRS. PARKER AND THE VICIOUS CIRCLE.

Meat Loaf plays the eponymous ROADIE, fixing equipment for rock bands across the armadillo-covered roads and byways of Americana. Art Carney plays his dad, who putters and mutters and does all manner of things that I'm sure had some whacked-out rationalization in the screenwriter's mind.

Art Carney: irascible.

By the way, the owner of said screenwriting mind is named "Big Boy" (Medlin). Regardless of its shortcomings, however, ROADIE does have its share of street credentials: Debbie Harry giving surreal advice about the "Age of Specialization," and her band (Blondie) covering Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire;"

The Debbie Harry factor is pretty high.

a character ("The Groupie," played by Kaki Hunter) who wears a different, insanely colored pair of tight pants in nearly every scene; a slew of cameos from Roy Orbison to Hank Williams, Jr. to Peter Frampton; and, as its 'piece de resistance,' a dinner with Alice Cooper that involves a boa constrictor and one of those Martian bug-out stress relievers dressed as Alice himself!

Alice Cooper orders around some security flunkies....including (!) Kurtwood Smith (on the left).

So despite possessing the storytelling aptitude of a tipsy gnat, ROADIE has some pretty rockin' tunes (by the likes of Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick, Styx, The B-52's and a shit-ton of others) and a palpable dive bar rock concert atmosphere. If this sounds up your alley, then I guess you can lose yourself in the ambience, kick back some beer (straight from the pitcher), relax, and enjoy yourself some ROADIE.

-Sean Gill

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