Friday, December 02, 2011

Roadie - Movie Review

This week in my movie class, we saw the drama, "Roadie", which features a number of actors whose faces you may recognize, even if their names might be unfamiliar; among some of the more familiar names would be Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale. 


After spending nearly a quarter of a century touring with a rock music band, an over-aged roadie unexpectedly finds himself out of work -- but when he's forced to move in with his mother, will he be able to get beyond his past and come to grips with his new life?


Jimmy Testagross (Ron Eldard) has spent his entire adult life working at one job:  as a roadie for the rock band Blue Oyster Cult.  After over 20 years of lugging around and setting up their equipment, the band’s management suddenly fires Jimmy so that they can hire younger and cheaper roadies in favor of someone more experienced.  Finding himself unexpectedly out of work for the first time in his life and lacking a permanent address, he is forced to return to his childhood home in Queens, NY and move in with his long-widowed mother. 

Re-orienting himself to this life is not easy for either Jimmy or his mother, especially when he sees how age has debilitated her.  While running an errand in town, Jimmy decides to make a detour into a neighborhood watering hole to quench his thirst.  Once there,he runs into Randy (Bobby Cannavale), an old acquaintance from high school.  After reminiscing for a while, Jimmy learns that Randy has been married to Nikki (Jill Hennessy), Jimmy’s old flame,for a number of years.  Late in life, it turns out that Nikki has begun a career as a musician and is now performing her songs at that very same bar every week. 

Following her sound check at the bar, Nikki and Randy invite Jimmy to see her show that night.  Once Nikki and Jimmy are left alone to spend the afternoon together, he brings her to his mother’s house where they listen to old music in his bedroom.  It is during this time that Jimmy discovers that he still has feelings for Nikki.  Later, Jimmy is invited to join Nikki and Randy in a nearby motel where they party prior to her performance.  With everyone drunk and drugged up, revelations are made about each person’s true feelings and intentions.  Coming to the bitter realization that his homecoming has been less than triumphant, can Jimmy somehow figure out a way to turn the page on his past and find a new life for himself? 


This episodic,self-indulgent movie is difficult to watch because it’s way too hard to root for a main character who’s so much of a jerk. After suffering throughout much of the film, we are supposed to believe by the end that he is now on the road to redemption and is ready to change his ways.  This may very well be and I’m not saying it isn’t believable, but by this time, we’re left to ask the question, “Who cares?”.  This guy is the embodiment of arrested adolescence and not only has he suffered for it, but he has clearly made his loved ones suffer for it as well – but he’s so selfish that he either can’t or won’t see how his actions have impacted others. 

The seemingly aimless nature of this movie apparently tries to come together towards the end, but can you really hang in there until then?  “Roadie”seems to be populated with immature adults lacking in self-awareness to the point that they are incapable of monitoring their behavior, much less growing up.  After a while (and maybe a very short while), you lose your patience with them and completely fall out of the story (such as it is).  As a result, I can’t really recommend this film, either in its likely limited theatrical release or as a rental/download.  

There were several interviews in this class, before and after the screening.   Prior to the screening, director Michael Cuesta was interviewed by our instructor; he talked about collaborating on the script with his brother Gerald and shooting on Super 16 (his preference over video).  Post-screening, cast members Lois Smith and David Margulies took the stage. Margulies plays one of the neighbors; while his name may not sound familiar to most people, his face most definitely would be – with a long list of credits, you would most likely recognize him as The Mayor in the film “Ghostbusters”.  One of his most memorable lines from the night was when he spoke of being in a play with Katherine Hepburn; they stood in the wings waiting to go on stage when she would bow her head and utter, “This is such an embarrassing profession!”. Lois Smith also has an impressive list of credits, despite the fact that you may not recognize her name; she’s been in such films as “East of Eden” and “Five Easy Pieces”.  Smith spoke of getting the acting bug as a kid when performing in church plays staged by her father; her regret, though, was the fact that he died after her freshman year of college,so he never lived to see her fulfill her life’s dream of becoming a professional actress. 

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