THE STORY: Four average high school guys from Cleveland who are rabid fans of KISS are bound and determined to get to the Motor City on Friday the 13th, 1978 to see their rock & roll heroes perform live in concert at Cobo Hall. They've been torpedoed twice before and are therefore willing to do just about anything to insure that the proverbial third time IS the charm. However everything that can go wrong, it seems, does go wrong along the way. The odds appear to be stacked against the boys as they encounter obstacle after obstacle in their quest to reach DETROIT ROCK CITY. What are they willing to sacrifice to get there? Will they make it?
THOUGHTS: Part tribute to the gods of rock showmanship and part crazy road trip, DETROIT ROCK CITY is a lot of infectious, energetic fun. The four leads are very winning in their various roles. Poised for stardom but never made it there actor Edward Furlong gets in the last of his four decent roles, (T2, Pecker, American History X, and this film), before fading away into obscurity, playing the boys' leader, Hawk. Giuseppe Andrews is solid as Lex, and James DeBello is side-splittingly funny as Trip. Sam Huntington also stands out in a star-making turn as the youngest member of the gang, Jam. All four boys face some major challenges, both together and apart, and will have a lot of growing up to do if they are to succeed in their mission. It's no surprise that KISS haters rip on this film but surprisingly even some KISS fans tear it a new one - complaining that there isn't enough KISS! I suppose I can understand that somewhat. This movie is NOT a concert film, and I think that's what a lot of fans were expecting or hoping for. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I walked into the theater back in 1999, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I've also read reviews bemoaning that DRC is too similar to DAZED & CONFUSED. I never saw that film so I cannot say. Plus, I really don't care. Sorry folks, I'm not going to grumble about what a film "almost is" or what other movie "it's a lot like" or whatever. I'm taking DRC at face value for exactly what it is, and what it is is one hell of a lot of fun. This is likely director Adam Rifkin's best film. The cinematography is really terrific; filled with all kinds of energetic camera moves, pans and crazy angles that give the movie a throwback 70's sitcom visual style perfect for the period in which it is set. The production design goes hand-in-hand with the cinematic style. There are so many visual & dialogue easter eggs for KISS fans plus a TON of things to spot throughout the film that are sure to trigger a flood of memories for children of the 1970's. The sound design is really awesome, too; lots of amusing sound bites accompany the camera moves and some of the action, giving the film a unique, almost slapstick look & feel. And speaking of the sounds... man oh man, this film has a killer soundtrack packed to the gills with groovy 70's rock nuggets, as well as some pop (and even disco >BOO!<) tunes thrown into the mix. Every song is perfectly chosen and accents the on-screen antics flawlessly. Well done! And lastly I wanted to mention that for a raunchy road trip film with crass language and sex-driven jokes this movie is surprisingly sweet and has a big heart, too. But please note, this film is still very much an R-rated flick and is therefor most definitely NOT appropriate for little kids. There are a TON of F-bombs throughout the movie, some brief female nudity, drug (pot) use, and even a bit of bloody violence as well, so please keep this away from the young ones. Everyone else however, is welcome to join in the fun of seeing if these KISS-obsessed horndogs from Cleveland can make it to the heart of Detroit to see "The Greatest Rock-N-Roll Show on The Face of The Earth."
THE BLU-RAY. This high-def release from Warner video is a solid value. The film appears to be free of dirt & debris and the picture is nice and sharp. No artifacting or pixelation, even in the numerous low light and nighttime scenes. The soundmix is strong and consistent. The playback level is even; quiet scenes are balanced nicely with the rowdier sequences and music track. Please be warned that this Blu-ray does not offer anything new over the DVD version beyond the improved picture clarity & sound (which were more than enough reason for me to double dip). For better or worse, the extras are just ported over from from the DVD release. Still, most of the bonus features are pretty good and combined they are as long (or longer) than the feature film itself, which makes this a real bargain, especially for movie buffs, trivia lovers and KISS fanatics. The three audio commentary tracks alone (director, cast & crew, and the four members of KISS) are an excellent listen and make it worth the purchase if you don't already own the film. I freely admit that I was a KISS fan as a young boy, but thankfully my mom wasn't quite as hard-nosed as Jam's! I had some KISS memorabilia, owned ALIVE II (which I must've played a zillion times), a few of their other albums and dreamed of seeing them in concert one day. I was much younger than the guys in this film so by the time I was old enough to go on my own the group had already split up. Happily, I finally got to see them as an adult during their original 1997 reunion tour and it was an unabashed nostalgia-fueled blast. For that, plus the good & bad memories of growing up during the amazing MESSterpiece that was the 1970's I'm giving the high-def Blu-ray release of DETROIT ROCK CITY a full 5 STARS.