Detroit Rock City [1999]

Genre: Comedy, Music
It's hard to call Detroit Rock City a "coming of age" movie--since it's hard to argue that any of the characters do any genuine growing up. But even though it's about four young metalheads trying to get to a KISS concert, the movie actually has more in common with sincere portraits of adolescence than it does with raucous teen comedies. The four heroes are members of a teen metal band called Mystery (the s is written in the same font as the letters of KISS, lest anyone mistake their source of inspiration). After the drummer's religiously zealous mother burns their tickets to a long-awaited concert in nearby Detroit, the boys go anyway and try to get tickets through theft, skullduggery, and entering a male stripper contest. The jokes are broad and the movie culminates in an orgy of male adolescent wish-fulfillment, but here and there some loving attention is paid to the details of 1970s teenage life--the haircuts, clothes, and toys the filmmakers probably had when they were kids. Edward Furlong, as the band's singer, is his usual scruffy self and exudes his particular lopsided charm; the rest of the cast play their parts with similar high spirits. Though Detroit Rock City was probably meant to be a no-holds-barred comedy in the vein of American Pie, the end result is curiously wistful; no one's going to mistake it for The Last Picture Show, but something sincere and elegiac lurks in those bang-covered eyes. --Bret Fetzer

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