A young dreamer named Power is fired from his mining job just before his union-leader father instigates a strike. Wishing he could be a drummer, but never getting the chance to play an actual kit, Power does not know what to do with his constant ambitions that make him air-drum 24/7. Fate steps in and he discovers an underground movement of air-drumming that all leads to a major event in New York city where he will have a chance to face off against a billionaire country-music star, who just so happens to be the son of the evil Copper Mine owner who is treating his Union friends, and family, so unfairly.
This film does spend a good chunk of time riding on the one-note quirkiness of its man child lead character and his oddball dreams of air-drumming, and does not get saved by the token love interest or ethnically broad supporting characters. But this film does find moments where it moves past the potential to be another rehashed, super-quirky Napolean Dynamite clone (though it strays close). It clings tightly to the RUSH worship of other contemporary comedies such as I Love You Man into rides it into a sentimental and surprisingly moving story about spirit. This almost exclusively occurs in the third act so the audience will have to hold tight until then.
Where it shines is in the performances of Michael McKean as the father, Adrian Grenier as the slick villain, and some sharp editing, particularly during some fun montage sequences. Where it falters is in the one-joke premise, and the failure to know when going over the top would work and when they don’t go far enough. To drag the comparison back, Napolean Dynamite succeeded by being relentlessly quirky whereas this film slides in and out of it, as if it cautiously cannot decide whether it will sacrifice heart for comedy.
I admit, some of my enthusiasm for this film comes from the fact that it was made for so little and released independently, driven by the enthusiasm of its star/writer/director Ari Gold. Though it is an acquired taste, it might be a little comedy that could and find a minor cult following somewhere in this universe; perhaps by those that (like me) have found their hands and feet moving involuntarily whenever RUSH’s Tom Sawyer starts playing.
Widescreen 1.78:1. The picture quality is less than stellar. Exteriors are bleached out or a distorted orange under an intense New Mexico sun, and even some of the lighting controlled interior shots get a bit too fuzzy for comfort. Sometimes things are clear enough that I do not notice, but quality control is lost on scenes that are either darker than usual (night time or certain interiors) or particularly light (the aforementioned New Mexico scenes).
Dolby Digital 5.1. With such kick ass tunes as Hell Bent for Leather and In The Air Tonight becoming so integral to the action, one would assume the sound would be able to back them up. I am satisfied with the mixing of both the music and the general action. The tunes are clear and we are able to get caught up in their energy.
Neil Peart: There is an extensive interview with the legendary RUSH drummer, which focuses on the charitable work that has been done with regards to music programs and some sweet little stories about how he came to be a part of this film. As well, there is a very enjoyable drum-off between Power (sans kit) and Peart, who perfectly executes Tom Sawyer, his signature tune.
Intro to Power: A series of mini-adventures for Power, the most enjoyable of which being his visit to Terry Bozzio (another drummer God) where we get another example of enthusiastic playing by Power vs. perfect style by Bozzio.
Trailers: For this an other films by the distributor.
Deletes: Extended scenes mostly. An interesting cameo by Tim and Eric (of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job fame) is amongst the shortened bits.
Postcards: An interesting DVD-Rom exclusive for those that have a home computer.
Music Videos: Three very entertaining music videos, only one of which is directly from the film but also happens to be a hilarious mashup up country, pop-punk, and rap (which almost convinced me of a trend we might yet hear on the radio, god help us).
Short film by Ari Gold: Culture is an entertaining joke done in less than a minute, Frog Crossing wreaks of student film, and Helicopter is a brilliant gem about the true-story of his mother’s death while riding in a helicopter with rock n roll legend Bill Graham.
This film wants to be much more than it wants. It starts off with hope, slows down considerably during the middle, but finds that enthusiasm again bu the finale. I wish it was less of an arduous trip, but there are some little highlights to be found in this film…truly little as they may be.