HARD CORE LOGO

R
Reviews

This is not Spinal Tap: Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald's tongue-in-cheek mock rock-doc Hard Core Logo has its share of quiet laughs, but anyone who goes in expecting unbridled dopey fun will be disappointed.

Hard Core Logo was a punk legend in Canada, but the Vancouver quartet fell victim to tensions between belligerent front man Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) and charismatic guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie). Twenty years after their moment in the sun (15 years after the acrimonious break up), Joe manages to reassemble the aging rockers-bass player John Oxenberger (John Pyper-Ferguson), who doesn't have a cool name and recently suffered a massive nervous breakdown, and rock 'n' roll animal Pipefitter (Bernie Coulson), who plays drums, round out the line-up-for a one-shot gig, a benefit performance dedicated to musician's musician Bucky Haight (Julian Richings), who recently lost both legs in a vicious robbery. Hard on the heels of their 'Rock Against Guns' triumph, Dick persuades them all to do one last tour, accompanied by a documentary film crew. Need it be said that it all goes terribly wrong?

Dick and Tallent, childhood friends who've long since had more than enough of each other, squabble bitterly. Oxenberger loses his medication and slips quietly into another breakdown: It culminates in his standing on stage after a particularly contentious performance, glassy-eyed and wearing nothing but white body paint and his underpants. Pipefitter parties till he pukes, Tallent nurses the secret that he's about to join oh-so-precious and successful indie band Jennifur, and the filmmakers get on everyone's nerves. The low point of the tour-there are several contenders-has to be the side trip to pay homage to Bucky, who's living in an isolated farm house and turns out not to be legless at all. Dick lied to get Tallent to agree to the reunion, and now the gaunt, martini-sipping, impossibly high-minded Bucky is spitting mad at him.

Make no mistake: Hard Core Logo is ruefully funny, funnier if you had anything to do with any aspect on of the early '80s punk scene. But the fact that its sense of humor is so deadpan will probably work to the film's disadvantage: It may genuinely be too clever for its own good. After all, if viewers regularly mistook This Is Spinal Tap for a real documentary, then they'll never figure out that Hard Core Logo is having a cheeky laugh at the expense of its feuding hard-core artistes. McDonald has the visual vocabulary of rockumentaries down pat, and the dialogue is so dead-on you almost don't know whether to snicker or weep quietly. Hard Core Logo's theatrical prospects are clearly limited, but it should find a niche in video stores: Its sly virtues may well work better on the small screen.

--Maitland McDonagh