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Still Crazy

As I flipped through the channels on my television, desperately trying to find anything worth watching (57 Channels and Nothing On), I kept running across rock and roll movies. VH-1 has been leading the way with bio pics on Meat Loaf, The Monkees and some weird Lennon and McCarthy film. I have seen Grease and Footloose 3 times since July 4. Even American Movie Classics is getting in the spirit of things by showing classic Elvis movies (which I applaud). This got me thinking about great rock and roll films that many of us have never seen. Anyone can review Grease, I wanted to showcase lesser known films that deserve a chance (that's my thing).

Still Crazy tells us about the fictional reunion of one of England's great (also fictional) '70's Arena-Rock bands, Strange Fruit. Twenty years ago, the band broke up after a tragic appearance at a famous rock festival. Their founder disappeared, the replacement lead singer went on to a successful solo career, and the rest found real jobs.

On of them, Tony Costello (Stephen Rea), the keyboard player, has become a condom salesman. While refilling one of his vending machines, he meets the son of the man who promoted that fateful rock festival 20 years ago. The young man wants to reunite Strange Fruit to play at the festival, but Tony needs to get the band back together.

First, he needs to convince Karen (Juliet Aubrey), the band's tour manager, to get back on board. Then, he needs to get Les (Jimmy Nail), the band's rhythm guitar player to give up his roofing business; the band's drummer, Beano (Timothy Spall), to give up his nursery gig; and Ray (Bill Nighy), the lead singer, to get back on stage. Everyone is ready to go, but they can't find Brian, the musical and lyrical brains behind the band.

Can the aging rock stars get their act together? What ever happened to Brian?

We don't get many films from England, but when we do, they are pretty good. In the tradition of The Full Monty, the audience gets a group of likable, fun loving, underdogs you hope will succeed. Each character is well defined and we have a good notion why he or she wants to be involved in this comeback, even though it seems doomed from the start. The love these men share becomes clear as they face difficulties and start acting like brothers-in-arms.

The film is hampered by a cliched ending, but I am willing to forgive director Brian Gibson, because the rest of the film is so much fun. If you already saw every episode of Behind the Music, check out Still Crazy.

Grade: B+

Directed by Brian Gibson

Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais


Stephen Rea …………………… Tony Costello

Juliet Aubry ……………………. Karen

Billy Connolly ………………….. Hughie

Jimmy Nail ……………………... Les

Timothy Spall …………………... Beano

Bill Nighy ………………………. Ray

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