I kept thinking, as I watched, that it was too bad Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, an excellent film about 80s NYC) didn't direct this, as his style is what this film badly needed. If your idea of humor is many shots of a dog with loose bowels (dog collars were punk, dogs and their bodily fluids were not), then this film worked for you. If you want to see how punk was broken in the US, try elsewhere. Regardless of subject matter, this is a terrible movie, with a terrible script, stupid graphics of who is who, and no depth (casting Alan Rickman was a huge mistake). There is nothing about why punk arose, where it arose (England, not CBGB), when it arose, or anything else of substance. I hate that punk and new wave have now been glomed into just punk. Punk was hardcore, nothing but, nothing new wave, just anti-everything.
The Police were NOT punk and often criticized for hopping on the punk bandwagon. They were already popular and had songs playing on the charts by the time they came to the US and played CBGB, yet this movie shows Hilly "discovering" them and seeing what no one else saw (in EVERY band in the film). That is just the tip of the very silly and inaccurate iceberg. Blondie was broken by Aussie DJ Molly Meldrum, not Hilly. The Talking Heads DID play their first gig there, but they weren't very punk, either.
Amazing how the music in the club, by many bands who could barely play, sounded like remastered studio tracks instead of the raw sound that was in CBGB and other clubs of that time. Instead of accuracy, the focus here was on fleas, excrement, roaches and dirty bathrooms. True, punk was a gross scene, and CBGB a dive, but punk was more about what the bands and their audiences were doing, like spitting and stage diving (Iggy Pop)), which they didn't even show, and things related to the bands and performing. Lots of clubs have gross bathrooms, fleas, roaches, etc. This film needed to show what was unique about punk and why we should care about CBGB.
I see so many positive reviews saying this film showed the struggle the bands had to go through to make it, etc. It didn't show any such thing, except the Dead Boys touring and crashing the truck. The characterizations of the bands and musicians was mostly terrible. Lou Reed? Are you kidding me? A pudgy little kid? He was 35 in 1977 and had already come and gone in music by 1972; he was the 'old' man watching over the scene. He only got famous again in retrospect, like so many who are cashing in now or that the media "discovered". And record labels love selling back catalogs. Punk was reviled back then. Prog and stadium rock was big, as was disco (sad as it was). 60s acts were still trying to remain relevant. The Buckingham-Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac was huge. Punk was 2 chords, and grew out of angry, disaffected British youth who had no prospects and could not rise above their station in life (thus punk did not have the same meaning in America). Those outside of that group had trouble 'getting' the punk esthetic, esp the media. New wave was influenced by punk, but hardly punk. Some punks turned new wave or let their labels turn them, like The Clash, who ended up anything but punk.
I think the 4 and 5 star reviewers bought the CGBG t-shirt online (while sitting at a Hard Rock Cafe) and a Ramones CD at Starbucks. Punk was a marketing/media term and turned mainstream very quickly, before the decade rolled over to the 80s. If you want to learn about punk and the scene in NYC in the late 70s and early 80s, watch a documentary and clips on YouTube of that time. This movie is a sugar coated fantasy (but doesn't even reach a watchable level) of that time.