The Suburbans

This slight, over-long comedy about a one-hit band takes the requisite pokes at fame, the music industry and pathetic dreamers who cling fiercely to their rock and roll fantasies long after success has passed them by. In the high-flying early '80s, the Suburbans had a hit called "By My Side" before vanishing into the swamp of pop music trivia. Nearly 20...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This slight, over-long comedy about a one-hit band takes the requisite pokes at fame, the music industry and pathetic dreamers who cling fiercely to their rock and roll fantasies long after success has passed them by. In the high-flying early '80s,

the Suburbans had a hit called "By My Side" before vanishing into the swamp of pop music trivia. Nearly 20 years later, the band members have dispersed and moved on, more or less. Front man Danny (co-writer/director Donal Lardner Ward) owns a small local soul club and lives with long-time

girlfriend Grace (Amy Brenneman), who's pushing for marriage and children. Drummer Rory (co-writer Tony Guma) is a salesman, bass player Gil (Will Ferrell) has become a hugely successful entrepreneur, and womanizing lead guitarist Mitch (Craig Bierko) is a podiatrist who'd drop everything for

another shot at fame. The four get together for a nostalgic jam at Gil's wedding and, wonder of wonders, the guests include an A&R rep (Jennifer Love Hewitt) for a hot record company. She offers the Suburbans a reunion gig, and suddenly they're back on the rock 'n' roller coaster. Ward is onto

something with considerable bitterly comic potential, but most of it goes unrealized despite a hip supporting cast that includes cameos by MTV's unctuous Kurt Loder, bad-boy photographer David LaChapelle (as a snotty music video director) and Ben and Jerry Stiller as father-and-son record company

executives. But Jennifer Love Hewitt, while cute as a button, has limited range, while Ferrell and Bierko are considerably stronger performers than Guma and Ward, who's in virtually every scene. And at the risk of nit-picking, "By My Side" is pure '60s British Invasion, not '80s synth pop, a fact

that's brought home by the closing clip of genuine '80s one-hit-wonders A Flock of Seagulls. In a movie about musicians, the musical details count.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This slight, over-long comedy about a one-hit band takes the requisite pokes at fame, the music industry and pathetic dreamers who cling fiercely to their rock and roll fantasies long after success has passed them by. In the high-flying early '80s, the Su… (more)

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