Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rock & Rule

Most movies are augmented by their soundtracks. Rock & Rule exists as an excuse for one.
In the spirit of Heavy Metal and Fritz the Cat, this Canadian animated musical extravaganza is justly best-known for featuring the music of Blondie, Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Earth, Wind & Fire. Unfortunately Rock & Rule came a little late to the party, was buried by its studio and didn't do so well at the box office. Then it hovered in limbo until about 2005 until it finally got a reissue.
So, we have our heroes, a struggling rock band, which is either Cheap Trick with Debbie Harry or Blondie with Robin Zander, depending on whose outfit wrote the particular track. The band itself is never named.
 And we have our villain, ossifying rock god, Mok, whose songs are courtesy of Lou Reed and/or Iggy Pop, depending on what mood he's in.
Oh, and the movie brings up this sort of half-assed effort at post-apocalyptic mutant society in the opening and then just kind of leaves it there. Sure, there's a club manager who looks kind of like a rat and is kind of rat-like, I guess; Omar aka Robin Zander looks vaguely like a dog, but acts nothing like one; Angel just looks like Debbie Harry and acts like a human.
So, the plot is that Mok wants to raise a demon that will make him all-powerful or at least boost his sales--"You must remember that my last concert was not... completely sold out."--but he needs a magical voice for the summoning. He's been scouring the world and the last place he looks is a dive bar in Ohmtown, where the band--again, nameless band--is playing a gig. Omar does a surprisingly rockin' Cheap Trick number that gets their power cut. Then Angel/Debbie takes over with her keytar and plays a pretty badass Blondie song. Omar stalks off, his delicate feels hurt, but Mok knows he has found the voice.
Mok gets the rest of the band loaded on something called Edison Balls, which is some kind of drug--Edison Balls? Really? Then he tries to convince Angel/Debbie to join him, but she refuses because she's gonna stick with her band--which, if it was so important, you think someone would have found a name for said band by now. I mean, I think I've been in a half-dozen bands that were just names.
Anyway, Mok asks Angel to join him, she refuses, he dopes her up with a rose full of roofies and then whisks her off to Nuke York in his blimp because what is more supervillain than a blimp? And the rest of the band sobers up and steals a cop car to give chase. (Usually the stealing and the sobering happen in the opposite order, but who am I to judge?)
 While they bumble around, Angel/Debbie manages to spring herself with the help of Cinderella, a zaftig roller derby girl who is on her way to the "hottest anti-gravity disco in town!"
 Rock & Rule may initially seem to play into the old damsel in distress routine with Angel/Debbie, but upon further consideration, she's no pushover. She insists on playing her own songs; the band follows her, not Omar Zander; she says no to Mok; she springs herself and keeps taking the initiative straight through to the end. Compare this to the males around her (Mok and Omar) both of whom are totally ego-blinded and can't tie their shoes without flunkies cheering them on.
Anyway, Angel/Debbie does still wind up at "Carnagie Hall" for Mok's big gig. But the demon summoning somehow goes wrong and Mok simply blows out all the power in Nuke York. He decides to return to Ohmtown--which had loads of electricity as the name may indicate--to try again, with the goofballs of nameless band again in pursuit....

With its angelic singer in the clutches of a demonic rock has-been, Rock & Rule is more than a little reminiscent of Phantom of the Paradise. Rock & Rule has an outstanding soundtrack, but suffers from a lack of plot--the episodic nature of Heavy Metal at least meant that by the time you got bored with one ridiculous premise, it had moved on to the next one. Also, Debbie Harry and Robin Zander should totally have duetted more, as their voices blend really well. Ultimately, Rock & Rule has some nice images, but works better as music than a movie--which is weird, because they never actually released that soundtrack after all...

No comments:

Post a Comment