SameDiff BNL

On The Road Again


Let us stipulate up front that if you've seen one rock band on the road documentary (there have been literally hundreds of them in the last two decades) you've seen them all. And let us further stipulate that even the best of them at some point turn into THIS IS SPINAL TAP, a farago of cluelessness, oversized egos and cliches. That said, this backstage look at Canadian alternative pop rockers Barenaked Ladies on their first American tour as headliners is a reasonably entertaining way to kill an hour and a half. It helps that the band members are basically a likeable bunch of goofballs (they look, as one fan correctly notes, like the kind of guys who work at the Gap), and the fact that they're ferociously good musicians with a genuine gift for the sing-along pop tune (like the sublime "Brian Wilson") doesn't hurt either. Director Jason Priestley (yes, him - c'mon, you knew all along he really wanted to direct) does Scorsese quality work in the concert scenes, and when things flag as they inevitably do (a few too many tour bus scenes) there are amusing celebrity cameos by the likes of Jon Stewart and, especially, Jeff Goldblum to take up the slack. There's also an incredible instance of real life imitating SPINAL TAP, involving a tear-jerking moment sabotaged by an unplugged piano; to their credit, the guys in the band at least seem to be aware of the irony.

Rating: 2½ stars (of 5).