Movie Review By Heather Clisby
Directed by Adam Rifkin, "Detroit Rock City" is a movie about four teenage boys who will stop at nothing to attend the rock and roll event of the century: a live performance of KISS in Detroit. Of course, it's much more than a concert, this is the pivotal point in their lives, an epic event and an experience so rich, it deserves to be made into a movie with a cool soundtrack. Ta da!
Yes, this is the 70s and the film is packed with the usual references plus a few more: shag carpeting, Farrah Fawcett posters, Shaun Cassidy, H.R. Pufenstuff and yes, even Stretch Armstrong are highly featured in this era snapshot.
Edward Furlong, best known for his role as young John Connor in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", is Hawk, the ringleader who makes swift decisions and rarely panics. Giuseppe Andrews is Lex, the dark, moody, worrier who is obviously the one I've would've been after at that age. It's his mother's Volvo that is enlisted for the journey, complete with the "OB GYN" license plate.
Sam Huntington is Jam, the sensitive gentleman of the group who is constantly tormented by his holy-rolling Mama, played by Lin Shaye, the same brilliant character actress who played the overly-suntanned Magda in "Something About Mary." Mrs. Bruce loves her son but is downright mean in her efforts to keep her son away from KISS, which as she points out, obviously stands for: "Knights In Satan's Service." The answer is lots and lots of God and dweeb clothes from Kmart.
Last but not least is Trip, played by newcomer James De Bello. As described by the actor himself, "Tripp is like the adopted friend, the guy you hang out with but you're not sure why." He is the uncouth one who wants to look up girl's skirts and mug little kids. Still, he grows on you.
Best of all, there's Natasha Lyonne, who most recently blew me away in "Slums of Beverly Hills." She plays Christine, an Italian, gum-popping disco queen who hitches a ride with the boys so she can get to Disco Inferno. Throughout the film, there is an ongoing rivalry about disco v. rock-and-roll but the point is moot. I believe Christine even says at one point: "Hey, I'm all for good tunes, whatever it is."
One does not have to be a die-hard fan of KISS to appreciate this entertaining story. I would bet one of my cat's lives that everyone listening to me right now has a youthful story about risking all kind of legal and parental hell just to see That One Show. They always end the same: Yes, it was worth it.
© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 08/11/99
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