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Part documentary, part music video with insightful views. *** (out of four)
BARENAKED IN AMERICA / (1999) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
"Barenaked in America" is part documentary, part music video following the Canadian band, Barenaked Ladies (Ed Robertson, Steven Page, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, and Tyler Stewart) during a two week US rock tour with the #1 single song "One Week," in the 1998 album "Stunt." The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of an atypical band and the experiences they face while touring throughout the country. Naturally, this unusual production will entertain fans of the rock group in focus, with stories from the band's ten year career, comedic backstage traditions, humor-lacked frolics and fan nudity. The film also includes in depth interviews with each member of the band and conflicts experienced, including a member who struggled with cancer, and the task it was for the Canadians to discover an audience in America.
The Barenaked Ladies began in 1988 when the band performed as part of Canada's alternative music scene. Blending easy-listening rock, jazz, and folk, the group toured throughout Canada and London-although hitting the jackpot in the USA was still out of their league until 1997, when appearances on national television programs and talk shows helped to achieve this dream.
"Barenaked in America" is inquisitive and stylish, mixing the distinguished personalities of the Barenaked Ladies with zest and humor of the film's clever interviews. The Barenaked Ladies are a peculiar rock group, with interesting perspectives and an intriguing history of success. I also enjoyed the movie's many musical numbers, including the hit "One Day," that not only inherits the film, but also provides an effective backdrop.
The movie is directed by Jason Priestley, who's credits range from feature films like "Eye of the Beholder," "Love and Death on Long Island," and "Tombstone," to the London production of Warren Leight's Tony Award-winning play "Side Man," to his most famous role as Brandon Walsh in the popular Fox television series "Beverly Hills 90210." With "Barenaked in America," he captures the excitement of individual fans in the audience of the concerts, including one man who is offered one-thousand dollars to bare all-and excepts.
"Barenaked in America" is insightful and cultural, although it has points in which electric verve seems to short-circuit itself with daul mumbo-jumbo and sequences lacking interest and motion. Candidly looking at a creative group of odd individuals, "Barenaked in America" may not consistently pack on the energy and pizzazz we crave, but it does show the earnest point of view of Rock and Roll through the eyes of a unique band. "Barenaked in America" shows you just how unique the Barenaked Ladies are.
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