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Detroit Rock City (1999)

Detroit Rock City isn’t a classic film in any way but it is one of hopefully 100 movies I see for the first time in 2012.  For the most part the Marilyn movies have kept me busy, but now that we’re done with it, I’m moving on to other movies.  So Detroit Rock City was a recommend from a fantastic listener of my weekly podcast (www.midnightmatineepodcast.com…sorry for the plug).  It’s a fun movie in the vein of Wayne’s World, but the shoddy acting doesn’t make this a movie I’ll probably be seeing again.

Four friends in 1978 get tickets to go see their idols, KISS.  When one of the boy’s mother burns the tickets, believing KISS to be minions of Satan, the group have to go on a road trip in order to score tickets, getting into a mess of hijinks.

The plot isn’t what’s important, the entire thrust of the story is if the boys will get the tickets and see their idols, and considering this is a comedy it’s pretty obvious how it will end.  The film holds a lot in common with similar movies of the 90s that were set in different eras a la Dazed and Confused.  Where Dazed and Confused was more accessible to anyone who had gone through the agony of transitioning in high school, Detroit Rock City is limited to KISS fans or metal heads and sadly I am neither (no offense).  The four friends are in various states of weirdness and the cast list reads like a list of “That guy from’s….” as you have Edward Furlong as the only actor of name, that guy from Cabin Fever (James DeBello), that guy from Independence Day (Giuseppe Andrews) and that guy from Superman Returns (Sam Huntington).  Each friend has one character trait that is pushed to the breaking point, specifically Trip (DeBello) who continues to play the stupid jerk from Cabin Fever.  Each guy goes on their own separate adventure to score tickets and you’ll probably have one you enjoy more than others.

My personal favorite, and really the only one given any meat to their story is Jam played by Sam Huntington.  Jam’s mother (played with zeal by Lin Shaye) is the catalyst of the movie as she believes KISS is the devil and burns their tickets.  Jam is also the only character who grows and discovers anything about himself.  The other boys end the movie exactly as they started bu Jam learns to stand up for himself.  His story is also where the director feels the need to poke fun at the Catholic church.  I don’t personally enjoy religion in my movies but director Adam Rifkin finds weird ways to say “hey Catholics are strange.”  There’s a priest who gets high and another priest in a confessional lusting for Jam to detail a sexual experience in detail.  I’m not particularly religious but there was no purpose to these jokes aside from saying priests like sex?  Or Rifkin could have just thought it was funny.

Detroit Rock City is good for a very particular set of people, for everyone else it’s a quick movie trying to capitalize on the 90s love for the 1970s.

Grade: C-

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Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

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