Film Review: The Perfect Age of Rock 'N' Roll

Some films are merely tired: This completely unoriginal <i>Almost Famous</i> wannabe is downright exhausted&#8212;and exhausting to sit through.

Writer-director Scott Rosenbaum’s would-be rocker of a film centers around Spyder (Kevin Zegers), burnt-out former lead singer of the band Lost Soulz, who, as he’s being interviewed by a journalist (Lukas Haas), recounts his troubled life and what happened to the third album the band was supposed to record. There is particular focus on his damaged relationship with his childhood best friend, songwriter Eric (Jason Ritter), whom he abandoned for success and tried to woo back to create more hits for him.

Almost Famous, of course, is the benchmark movie of this genre, and watching The Perfect Age of Rock ’n’ Roll just makes you realize how much better that film was, even if somewhat overrated. There is nothing here to hold your interest—not the plotline, which is basically a road tale involving the Lost Soulz bus tooling along Route 66 as the band bickers and plays together in time-honored bad-boys-being-bad-boys-together fashion; not the music, which is pure, shallow pastiche (one scene involving authentic blues musicians Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Sugar Blue, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Bob Stroger shows how it should be done, all too briefly); and surely none of the characters, who all have the basic depth of a puddle. Sample dialogue: "I was on this dysfunctional family road trip down a road that didn't even exist.” Not a single really original idea brightens this morass, and one can only hope the actors had a good time making it, because you certainly don’t have one watching it.

Zegers has carefully studied the gestures and attitude of certain washed-up rock-royalty types, but lacks the essential charisma needed to make you give a rat’s ass about his egomaniacal character. As the all-too-obvious other side of the coin, Ritter plays wronged good guy with monotonous competence. Taryn Manning is particularly unconvincing as the band’s manager, coming off more like a snippy debutante on Zegers’ day job, “Gossip Girl.” One sincerely hopes that some day Haas, who was one of the most winning child actors in screen history in Witness and Lady in White, gets an adult role to properly showcase himself again.

Typical of Rosenbaum is the fact that he hired veteran actress Ruby Dee for a scene in a backwoods bar and barely gives her a single line of dialogue. Kelly Lynch doesn’t fare much better in another cameo aimed, supposedly, at dissipating the testosterone. Saddest of all is the presence of a weirdly wide-eyed Peter Fonda as the tour bus driver. Rosenbaum’s clueless gall knows no bounds in a scene that I guess is some kind of tribute to Easy Rider, but merely comes off as a cheap desecration. Does Fonda need the work that badly?