A garage-rock band made up of middle-aged guys suddenly hits the big time in this lightweight comedy.
Back in the early ’90s, the Jane Ashers, a power-pop quartet led by charismatic singer Harry Vance, performed around its home base of Dean, Ohio, enjoying modest successes like a headlining slot at Eggfest ’92 (attendance: 400). But Harry’s girlfriend, Debbie, miscarried shortly after, putting the band out of commission for 13 years. Drummer Sandy Klein, aimless after a job injury puts him on worker’s-comp, reunites the group, and Harry comes on board mainly in the hopes of impressing his estranged son, Matty. But it’s Matty’s would-be girlfriend, 16-year-old Natalie, who winds up flipping for the band. After hearing them play, she enthuses about the experience on her blog, whose massive readership propels the Jane Ashers to a hit single, a record deal and a headlining tour—with all the boozing, coke-snorting and groupie-chasing such instant fame entails. Spin senior writer Spitz (How Soon Is Never?, 2003) tries to give this farcical tale about the travails of middle-aged rockers some emotional heft—which, ironically, winds up weakening it. Matty’s never more than a cardboard every-teen, which makes the pages devoted to Harry’s anxiety over his role as a father ring hollow. (And all the pages devoted to Harry’s coke-fiending don’t help.) Sandy, the story’s narrator, proclaims his lifelong friendship with his bandmates, but these relationships never feel intimate; the story mainly cobbles together an assortment of anecdotes, jokes and dutiful-sounding platitudes about how love and camaraderie trump the shallowness of the rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.
Slight and sugary—but not in the way that makes for a great pop song.