A Sentimental Celebration of a Legendary West Hollywood Club in Troubadours

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Troubadours
Directed by Morgan Neville
Opens February 2
IFC Center

All hail the Troubadour, the landmark West Hollywood nightclub that galvanized the late-’60s/early-’70s singer-songwriter scene, launching Carole King, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, and Elton John (as well as comedians like Steve Martin and Cheech & Chong). As seen at Sundance last week, Morgan Neville’s pop-doc celebration features all of said boldfaced names and more waxing broadly about their early days at “the Troub,” with the obligatory vintage-concert footage and Ken Burns–style zooming and panning over scrapbook finds. The cinematic occasion is the club’s 50th anniversary, marked by a 2007 series of King and Taylor reunion concerts, slickly packaged together to wash over viewers like a sentimental, VH1-worthy pleasantry. The film is entertaining but hardly penetrating, and there’s something uncool about shaking the opening credits awake with the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams” before ditching rock ’n’ roll sensationalism altogether. Not that we need to hear any more about David Crosby’s snorting habits, and Taylor was probably still a mellow, boring guy even as a hophead. But why isn’t Doug Weston, the Troubadour’s late owner and curatorial mastermind—dismissed here as a greedy, crazy huckster by those who owe their careers to him—the star of the show?

 
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