SameDiff BNL

'Barenaked': Weak Film directed by Famous Fan

By MARK BROWN, San Jose Mercury News, September 29th 2000.

No matter how earnest and well-intentioned your best pal may be, don't let him give you a haircut or a tattoo. And don't let him make a movie about you.

The Canadian band Barenaked Ladies should have resisted the notion that their longtime admirer and friend, Jason Priestley of "Beverly Hills, 90210," would be the perfect guy to direct a feature-length documentary.

"Barenaked in America" is too obvious and pedestrian for hard-core fans, too out-of-context for neophytes.

The movie hangs on the notion that you've heard, and had your life changed by, the band's 1998 smash single "One Week." That's a dangerous assumption; a summer song from two years ago can dry up and blow away in no time.

Going along on the band's giddy headlining tour for its breakthrough album "Stunt," Priestley shows arenas full of fans but never gets to the core of why they're there.

BNL leaders Steven Page and Ed Robertson are fantastic emotional songwriters, often giving a poignant glimpse into the human condition, be it "What a Good Boy," "Blame It on Me" or "Jane." Yet too often the band's insights into its own chemistry are brought down to cliches such as: "The guy is such a musician."

The blame isn't all Priestley's. When he tries to make Page and Robertson clever-on-demand for the camera, they do no better explaining themselves than he does.