Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone (2006) Poster

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A Punk Film With MOR Ideas
Dale Houstman25 November 2009
The performances were good, and (in Eddie Vedder's offerings) even splendid, making something poignant and powerful as well as rambunctious and ground-breaking out of the Ramones' songs. The visual production is no-frills, which is appropriate to its subjects, and most of the guest stars and inserted commentators are both passionate and of relevance to the Ramones' legend, although - in this regard - I do wonder how Lisa Marie Presley managed to squeeze her way into the proceedings, since she is not punk, scarcely a modern musical presence at all, and of no particular interest in her comments here. Still, the importance of the Ramones to many of the people in the film is both well expressed and (at times) moving. I have no essential problem with those two aspects of the movie: the musical homages, and the oral essays. My concerns start at the point where they were edited together, and this is where one of the most common errors of these "tributes" emerges in full force - the performances are constantly interrupted by talking heads, very few acts find their tributes in full array. I don't need to be told (in the middle of a song) how important the Ramones were to this or that personality. The adulation can wait until song's end, because the music is what it is ALL about. A disappointing and very Middle of the Road format.

As an aside, Johnny Ramone was in the process of dying and though eager to be there that night, was finally too ill to attend. So they held up a cellphone so he could hear? Why couldn't some type of audio-visual remote have been set up so (at least) Johnny could have experienced the concert, if not also so he might himself be seen? This struck me as odd, considering the level of money and talent that attended.

Worth viewing, for the few full songs, the passion displayed in some acts, and the occasional stills and video of the Ramones themselves. But not an exemplary production.
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