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Detroit Rock City (1999)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
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6.9
 / 10
10 votes
Genres:
Comedy, Road Movie, Teen Comedy
Director:
Adam Rifkin Adam Rifkin
Starring:
Giuseppe Andrews Giuseppe Andrews
James DeBello James DeBello
Edward Furlong Edward Furlong
Sam Huntington Sam Huntington
Lin Shaye Lin Shaye
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Review by Chad
Added: August 20, 2008
Upon its release almost ten years ago (has it really been that long?), I passed on Detroit Rock City for a couple of reasons. For starters, I'm not a huge fan of Kiss - I won't say that they didn't leave their mark on the world of rock and I can't even say that I don't like any of their music, but I'm certainly not enough of a fan to watch a movie that revolves around them. Secondly, the film just didn't get any type of promotion whatsoever, it then went on to bomb in theaters for the whole week or so that it ran for, and then it was quickly dumped to DVD. Let's see: the movie revolves around a band that I'm not a huge fan of, it stars actors that I don't care about, it didn't draw a dime in theaters, and it was created by a man whose biggest claim to fame at the time was whipping up the Goosebumps knockoff known as Bone Chillers. So, yeah, I didn't exactly rush out to purchase it when it landed on DVD, but - much like a number of other films in recent months - I decided to give it a shot after I saw it sitting in the bargain bin.

Revolving around four slackers - Hawk (Edward Furlong), Jeremiah (Sam Huntington), Lex (Giuseppe Andrews), and Trip (James DeBello) - who want nothing more than to finish up the last day of school and head to Detroit for a Kiss concert, Detroit Rock City is part buddy film and part road trip movie. Much like the finer offerings from these two genres, tonight's storyline really only centers around that one goal, but it's the trip there that makes up the meat of the movie. Over the course of the night, these boys will see their tickets go up in flames courtesy of Jeremiah's overzealous Christian mother (Lin Shaye), stumble upon more tickets, lose them, hunt for even more, have their car stolen, delve into the murky world of ticket-scalpers, enter a dance contest at the local gay strip bar, find true love, and yes, marvel at how great of a band Kiss truly is.

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the hell out of this little film. The main reason for this is simple: even though the members of Kiss were played up as being the stars of the show and the focal point of the storyline, they really didn't play a huge part in the grand scheme of things. The boys want to go to their concert, they make a few references to the band throughout the running time, we hear a couple of their songs on the soundtrack, and we see them performing live at the end - that's it. You could have just as easily inserted any other band in here and it would have played out in much the same way, so to ignore this film because you don't like Kiss would be akin to ignoring Harold & Kumar because you don't like cheeseburgers.

In much the same way as the aforementioned Harold & Kumar appealed to stoners and non-stoners alike, it really doesn't matter if you're a fan of seventies rock when it comes to the film at hand. If you do enjoy that music as much as I do, great, you'll love the soundtrack, but if not, it won't cause you to hate the movie as a whole by a long shot. This is because the four leading men work together wonderfully and have a damned fine chemistry together, and even though it was rough in spots, the storyline worked out as well as one could hope for. You've got actors that gel together beautifully, some genuine laughs, and a storyline that keeps you interested until the credits roll... what more could you ask for?

Really, that's the only flaw that I could find in the film: the script could have used a few tweaks here and there. For example, there's a scene or two that really felt out of place, and if I were a betting man, I'd say that they were inserted only to be used in the trailer (the toilet scene comes to mind). It'd be akin to seeing, say, a Jackass stunt inserted into the middle of The Naked Gun. There's nothing wrong with those kids from Jackass, but it'd certainly feel out of place in a Leslie Nielsen film, and that is how some of the scenes felt here. There are also a few storyline arcs that weren't properly concluded (Jeremiah's grand outburst with his mom for one), but these two problems were minor and only popped up two, maybe three times throughout the whole film. Folks, that's far from a deal-breaker.

Give it a shot if you enjoy comedic road movies, don't miss it if you also enjoy buddy flicks, and if you're a fan of seventies rock, just go ahead and purchase it right now. It's not the best in any of those genres, but it's certainly a memorable film that deserved a better run in theaters. 8/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 08/20/2008, 09:44 AM
"What the hell are you doing Sister Gonorrhea, waiting for the bus? "

This was a great one. One of my favourite comedies growing up. 8/10 as well.
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