Detroit Rock City
Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am
This movie follows four high school boys who are die-hard KISS fans in spite of the overwhelming popularity of disco and the objections of the adults (“KISS stands for Knights In Satan’s Service!”) as they do everything they can think of to get seats to the concert in Detroit. There is little originality, wit, or credibility in the script, but in its own way it is genial and unpretentious and ultimately more winning than some recent overly focus-grouped big studio releases.
One of the mothers burns their tickets and carts her son Jam (Sam Huntington) off to a Catholic boarding school that looks like it was dreamed up by Charles Addams. The other three have to figure out a way to spring him and to find four new tickets so they can see the show. This involves taking another mother’s Volvo, feeding hallucinogenic mushroom pizza to a priest, entering a male stripper contest, foiling two separate robberies, stopping to have sex (one couple loses their virginity in a confessional), sneaking backstage, beating up some disco fans, getting beat up by various other people and by each other, and eventually making it into the sanctum sanctorum of the KISS live performance.
Much of the humor in the film will be lost on people who don’t know every KISS lyric and remember the KISS comic with the band’s blood mixed into the red ink. And it is something of a valentine to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to say nothing of lying, cheating, stealing, destroying property, and cutting school. Furthermore, it is very much a male fantasy movie, with four teen-age boys triumphing over huge bad guys and winning over beautiful women. It also includes one of the key cliches of the teen movie — the character who has sex for the first time becomes suddenly more mature, braver, wiser, and more powerful. Parents of kids who see this movie may want to discuss these issues.
Most kids will not be interested, however. To the extent that the movie has appeal beyond hardcore KISS fans and those who appreciate the 1970’s references, it is due to its young stars (including Edward Furlong, Natasha Lyonne, and Melanie Lynskey) and the loyalty they show to each other, to their idols, and to their dreams. This lends the movie a welcome sweetness that leaves the audience almost as happy that they make it into the theater as they are.