Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll was an interesting journey. I don’t have a half star character in my collection of HTML special characters so it will have to stay with three stars instead of 3.5. Previously, when I reviewed The Ghost Writer I told you I added a Olivia Williams movie to my queue. This was it. I stumbled onto the movie because of her. I was fascinated with the subject because I had never heard of The Blockheads. I’m not saying I lead a sheltered Christian life, I had friends who were Sex Pistols fans. Maybe they just didn’t make a splash in America?
Maybe my high school friends were only fans of the dead punk rockers? I mean Sid Vicious died Frebruary 2, 1979 and I was an early 80s high school student. Right about the time AC/DC Back in Black was taking the world by storm. The whole Sid & Nancy Story was in the news. Drug crazed punk rocker kills druggie girlfriend played well in the Midwest for parents trying to steer their kids away from the darker corners of Rock & Roll.
Perhaps that is why I didn’t hear about The Blockheads? After that story broke wide WLS AM 89 Rock Radio and WMET 95 1/5 FM didn’t play much of the punk. Even Billy Idol switched to mainstream sounds and songs. Eyes Without a Face sure got him a lot of general airplay. Though he came from a punk rock background, once he adopted the MTV video hair and sound he went mainstream. He did collapse outside a club from drugs and disappear for a while, but, that’s Rock & Roll.
Back to the Movie
Bill Milner who plays Baxter, Ian’s son, is really an amazing young actor. Andy Serkis who plays Ian Dury just comes from out of nowhere in this film. I guess he should. Most of us don’t actually see him in the roles he plays. You’ve all seen The Lord of the Rings, but how many asked who played Gollum / Smeagol? While we are at it, he also plays Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot.
I must admit that Wesley Nelson playing young Ian delivered an amazing performance for a young actor. It will be interesting to look into his career in a few years and see what he has made of it.
The actress with a stand-out performance was Naomie Harris. Don’t get me wrong. Olivia Williams really delivered on her role in this film and studios need to give her bigger deeper characters to explore, but Naomie came from almost the same part of nowhere as Andy did for this film. I’m looking forward to seeing her as Money Penny in No Time to Die. This is coming from a man who owns a copy of Venom: Let There Be Carnage where she plays Shriek.
Why Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll only got 3-stars
It was the concert footage. More directly the flashing between the flashback scenes and the concert footage. The flashback scenes were all professionally shot. The concert footage was whipping all over like some imbecile with an imbecile phone was in the crowd trying to shoot it and dance to the music. Here’s a clue imbecile, that never works. Maybe that was tolerable on “the big screen” but on a 32-inch widescreen in my bedroom it made me want to vomit.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to film insanity. That was the wrong way.
Yes, production is what failed this movie, not the acting or the script.
A little more about the music
To me punk was always the druggie dregs of society that weren’t going to be with us long like Sid and The Sex Pistols. As I got a bit older that definition evolved into some of the punk that got more mainstream (or got consumed by mainstream.) Iggy Pop and The Stooges. Even the Ramones. You know, the stuff that mainstream allowed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To me the rest of the punk scene was more like speed metal, guys screaming incoherently, and instruments completely out of tune which didn’t matter because they couldn’t play. Think really loud high school band parents had to endure.
Needless to say I was thinking “they really flubbed this movie” when the music was played by people who could actually play and much of it sounded good. I mean good. I thought “Central Staffing really hosed this when they cast it.”