'Barenaked' Follows A Band With Nothing To HideBy JONATHAN FOREMAN, New York Post, September 29th, 2000.
'Barenaked in America" couldn't be further from the kind of rockumentary spoofed in the recently re-released "This Is Spinal Tap."
There's no groupie action here, no overdoses, no vicious arguments, no manipulative girlfriend who breaks up the band. But then, Barenaked Ladies is a band without any rock 'n' roll pretensions, whose songs represent a very Generation X, very collegiate sensibility: ironic, referential and daffy. And even by Canadian standards, these guys lack edge.
As a result, the first half of Jason Priestley's behind-the-scenes look at the Barenaked Ladies on tour is genial, if not very compelling, footage of the band's members, all pleasant, well-spoken, thirtysomething Canadian guys, talking about their touring as work.
Occasionally, they make stereotypically Canadian chip-on-the shoulder complaints about "Canadian" being a pejorative word in the United States.
But as you get to know the Barenaked Ladies and see the band in concert, it's hard not to be won over. They're genuinely funny, smart guys. And when keyboardist Kevin Hearn is diagnosed with advanced leukemia just as the band is about to go on tour, you get to see what decent people they are, too.
In the second half, Jason Priestley, former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star turned director, includes among the concert footage - and the slightly awkward interviews with Jeff Goldblum, Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart (the funniest) - some cool, surprising moments, like when the band members sing the U.S. national anthem at a hockey game in Philadelphia, and when they tell the director of one of their videos that his efforts look "boring and flat."
There's something oddly endearing about the Barenaked Ladies. And by the end of the movie, you begin to see just what it is that inspires such intense fan loyalty. It's likely to grow stronger when they see this film.
Rating: 2½ stars (of 5).