For music fans, there’s nothing quite like a good band movie. Needless to say, some out there are absolutely terrible, but every once in a while you get that diamond in the rough that hits perfectly on the fun, frustration, comedy, exhilaration, anger, power and the damn well awesomeness of being in your own band. So here are my top 5 band movies; I’ve decided to limit this to fictional bands and, as always, feel free to add comments with your own opinions or favourite scenes!
In no particular order…
1) The Blues Brothers
This one HAD to be in there. The story of Jake and Elwood is heartwarming, hilarious and down right ridiculous at times, featuring some of the greatest cameos not just in band movies, but of any movies (Princess Leia as a psychopathic gun-wielding woman scorned anyone?). Not only is the blues and R&B some of the best of the best here, but with songs and appearances from Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown, the film could have been rubbish and still would have been worth watching for the songs alone. Luckily the script is just as strong and bizarre, making for a true classic for any music buff.
Relatively new, only being released in 2014, but fully deserves a place on the list. Anyone in a band will relate to the song writing inner monologue of Jon at the very beginning, and from there it just gets more surreal as we’re introduced to the band, fronted by a man with a giant papier mache head. Yes, you heard me right. With an indie film feel backed up with an indie band sound, the film not only hits the nail on the head with the internal frustrations of throwing everything into something musically, but also deals with mental illness, the overbearing eyes of social media in today’s society, and wraps this all up with surreal dark comedy and some great performances. Well worth a watch if you haven’t seen.
3) Almost Famous
This one could divide a few people. I know that many say it’s cheesy and full of cliches, but I think that’s what gives it its charm. For me, its warmth and humility exuberate throughout and you pine to be in the nostalgic 70s world from the very beginning. Following the journey of a teenager (apparently based of director Cameron) with a love of writing and music, you get whisked into the terrifying and fantastical land of rock journalism, as he goes on tour with fictional band Stillwater. Funny when needed, emotional when necessary, the film is coming of age personified, and does what it should do; makes you want to be in a rock band.
4) Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
This one is hard to explain; you really just have to watch it. Director Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead fame) delivers this movie based on the cult graphic novel series with all the little touches, witty dialogue and perfect humour that made his past exploits such big hits. With CGI and geeky references littered throughout, the journey of the band takes a back seat to Scotts overall story, but has enough presence to show you how much being in a band means to you when you’re young, even if it is just to get with girls…
5) This Is Spinal Tap
The absolute classic. This movie hits the nail on the head when it comes to being in a band, showing it for its stupidity, brilliance, arrogance, and rolling it all into a docu-comedy which was one of the first of its kind. Some of the best scenes and most quotable references (“these go to 11”), this never gets old, and will bring you right back down to earth if you’re in a band and taking yourself too seriously.