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Photograph by Lisa Tomasetti

Rising Star: Freddy (Kick Gurry) wants to be bigger than even the Police in Australian rock film 'Garage Days.'

Rock & Runt

A bad Australian band deals with personnel squabbles and pregnancy in Alex Proyas' 'Garage Days'

By Richard von Busack

AUSTRALIA, we thought you liked us! And yet in the last two months, you've sent us two separate bitter draughts of 'roo-spew: the cutesy, attenuated heist picture The Hard Word and now Garage Days. Is this all delayed payback for Kangaroo Jack? In both The Hard Word and Garage Days, the same gimmicky camera tricks, filters and visual hypertext are used to show off, rather than to set a mood or tell a story. The frenzied energy serves no purpose. Garage Days, like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, is as full of forced mirth as a birthday party at a hospice.

Of The Hard Word and Garage Days, the latter is more injurious; there's not a really good performance in it. The would- be rock star kids are cute, but they're all like child actors in their first grown-up roles. Alex Proyas--the director of The Crow, who probably has his share of crow's feet now--steals from the treasure-trove of '80s music to adorn this ultrapaltry film about a struggling rock band. He can play the Jam's "Boys Don't Cry" on the soundtrack, but essentially what he has here is My Best Friend's Girl--The Movie. Moreover, the general demeanor of this mixtape musical is like one of those since-forgotten New Wave musicals in which it was insisted that the Police were the most streety punk-rock band alive.

Garage Days follows the moderate rise of a Sydney rock band of today, whose personal life is as braided as Fleetwood Mac's. Freddy, the boisterous lead singer (played by an actor named Kick Gurry), has a crush on his mate's girlfriend, Kate (Maya Stange). Kate, has just learned that she's about to have a baby, but her boyfriend, Joe (Brett Stiller), has his own personal demons and problems with fidelity. He's willing to overlook these, though, in his thirst to be a dad. The personal life aside, the band is having trouble finding gigs. Sydney's post-punk/grunge neighborhood is being muscled aside by video poker machines ("pokies"), which are displacing live music as remorselessly as DJs are in American nightclubs.

The business side of the band's strivings features some accurate details; the noted Australian musician Dave Warner, of Dave Warner's From the Suburbs co-wrote the script. The dramatic subplot about whether Kate's going to give birth is more of an annoyance. Garage Days trades in punk-rock imagery--the spiked hair, the tattoos, the T-shirts knocked off of Vivian Westwood--and yet it ignores that Sex Pistols line "It's not a bybee--it's an abortion!" Apart from one OK bondage sex scene and an amusing drug hallucination scored to Rick James' "Super Freak," Garage Days seems meant to remind you of just how funky the Monkees were.


Garage Days (R; 105 min.), directed by Alex Proyas, written by Proyas, Dave Warner and Michael Udetsky, photographed by Simon Duggan and starring Kick Gurry, Maya Stange and Brett Stiller, opens Friday at Camera 3 in San Jose and CinéArts in Palo Alto.


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From the July 17-23, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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