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Jimmy, a longtime roadie for the legendary Blue Oyster Cult, has been fired by the band. With nowhere else to go, he returns home to see his aging mom in Forest Hills, Queens, where a wild encounter with two old high school friends shows him that some things never change.
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Jimmy stops by a local dive bar as he walks down the street and orders a drink from the local barmaid, whom recognizes him from the old days and the neighborhood. At the end of the bar is an old high school buddy/nemesis Randy Stevens whom refers to him as "testicles", which is humorously referenced throughout the film's duration. Jimmy proceeds to spin his tales on where he's at in life and boasting to Randy about how he's "big time" within the industry and is not only Blue Oyster Cult's manager, but also producer and songwriter. Randy then intimates that he has since taken over his father's car dealership as well as marrying their mutual schoolmate friend Nikki, whom is in the back of the club rehearsing for a show later that evening. We find that Nikki and Jimmy were close friends back in the day and they rekindle their friendship shortly thereafter upon walking back to his mother's house and enter his old bedroom where most of his things have remained intact including his wallposters and record collection. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy and Randy hook up and proceed to rekindle a bit of debauchery with drinking and other extra-curricular activities that leads the way to renting a room at a local motel for a bit of pre-show partying for their friend Nikki, until Jimmy gets so completely plastered that he and Randy have a falling out during the interim, causing Jimmy to leave and he finds himself on the street again, trying to reach his old co-hort within BOC's organization, via, his cell phone, only to be hung up on again and angrily, but desperately, he finds his way home and rather than going inside the house to sleep off the after effects of partying, he elects to sleep in his old car that has vegetated in his adjoining neighbor's driveway since he left the area.
Despite the falling out from the night before, Nikki and Jimmy meet up and reconcile and the film closes out with Nikki dropping off a cd she has made with the hopes of Jimmy being able to tout it around to interested parties what with his fabled experience in the industry. The film is touching, in a campy sort of way and it strikes a chord within some of us whom had followed a similar path in chasing the dreams of living the rock and roll lifestyle, only to find that, once you come of age, life outside continues to go on and with that, our character has to come to terms with this hard fact of life. Ultimately, this is the film's rewarding theme throughout and although its no blockbuster by any means, I find it good enough to warrant merit despite its low budgeted production style and basic written script. 4 stars
It's no surprise some have labeled Roadie "slow" or "boring"--character studies eschew the busy-ness of plot-driven movies for the subtle, the understatement. There were many moments in the film where I expected it to decay into melodrama or the big message, and above all I applaud the writer(s) and director for avoiding that. This is Death of a Salesman type fare, a story about a man who thought he knew what his life was about suddenly faced with a new, harsh reality. For some, life plays out in big dramatic moments--cancer, heart attack, accident--but for many more it plays out in small pieces of entropy, and that's the case here.
Certainly my small town background and four musicians in a Ford Econline musical career played into my appreciation of Roadie. I realized many of my dreams on a small scale, and I appreciate that every day, but there is a bittersweet quality to what was left on the table, so to speak. I belief this movie can speak to anyone who's returned to the place of their childhood to find so many of the same dynamics are still in play. The same thing goes for anyone who set out believing they knew where they were going, only to find out one day the detours are too many to count, the triumphs counterweighted by lost opportunities, whether willingly set aside or forced to the side by "reality"--job, money, marriage, kids or even lack of skill/talent.
If you need the big message or the hopeful ending you will be disappointed. If you want grand language or symbolism, look elsewhere. In fact if you want that stuff go watch Crazy Heart, a film that had all the potential of Roadie and threw it away for fairy-tale land. The success of this film is it's simple honesty, one of the hardest things to pull off.
Finally, the music director nailed it--the soundtrack was eerily spot on, songs chosen not only for atmosphere but for message. I would have like the Jackson Browne version of The Load-Out, but Adam Duritz does all right.
In this movie, however, not for Jimmie the roadie. His dream of being a successful rock n' roll manager and songwriter led him back to his mother's house, and his childhood bedroom, where his dream of rock music glamour stardom.began.
The movie begins when he gets fired while on tour as a roadie. A job he has held for 26 years. Down and out, he retreats to his mother's house in his childhood suburban neighborhood.
The embarrassment of failure for him is too overwhelming. So when he runs into a high school classmate at a local bar he lies, saying he had worked his way up from roadie to manager, and had written a couple of songs for his band: Blue Oyster Cult, a mildly successful 70s rock group.
As it turns out, his high school acquaintance is married to Jimmie's one time childhood girlfriend, a wannabe, what else, music star.
His lies has led his childhood friends to believe he has made it in the world of rock n' roll. He tells them he's in town just to visit his mother. Nonetheless, it's all lies to protect his vanity.
In the end, he returns to live with her, and he helps his mother plant in the backyard garden. This made me think of the Voltaire character Candide.
Overall, I found this movie watchable: the story is interesting and strong. Even though, the acting could have been stronger yet it's well directed, and the best actor is in the leading role.
In the end, it's a movie with a moral ending: be careful for what you wish for. If it's a long shot dream like being a successful music manager/songwriter, chances are you'll wake up too late on your childhood pillow: late for real life.