Detroit Rock City


There’s an awful lot of
rocking out going on in Detroit Rock City, but then rocking out is this occasionally clever but lifeless movie’s reason for
being. Set in the Carter-era flatlands of Michigan, City
follows four buds (Edward
Furlong, Sam Huntington, James DeBello, and Giuseppe Andrews) on a borderline-epic quest to (finally) attend their grail-like show of shows, a
Kiss concert in Detroit. Their
obstacles: Mom, their own
stupidity (or at least the
stupidity of requisite stoner DeBello), and the inevitable calamities that befall those
under 18 who borrow their
parents’ Volvo.

Things go awry for the
quartet when one of their
hyper-Catholic mothers
discovers the tickets and sets them ablaze. The boys are bummed, but after the deus ex machina of a call-in radio
promotion, they’re back on course, hightailing it for Detroit in the aforementioned Volvo. Along the way they meet a saucily game disco diva (Natasha Lyonne, who, typically, has a real mouth on her) and lose the car and the second set of tickets. They eventually sneak into the show, but first they get laid, foil a convenience store robbery, and, in the case of nominal leader Furlong, dance in a Chippendales-style amateur revue. (His is by far the most random of the guys’ solo adventures, but it’s also the most engaging by virtue of
being so damned bananas.)

Cheerfully bombastic, City has its share of smart-stupid jokes and an unexpectedly wry texture, from the ongoing disco vs. rock squabbles to the lightly malevolent twists Carl Dupre’s script takes as the ticket
situation becomes increasingly dire. Still, there’s something tiring about watching the boys jump through hoops that are clearly destined to evaporate exactly five minutes before show time. It wouldn’t have been very fair to keep the kids out of the arena of their dreams, but it would have definitely made Detroit Rock City a
better movie.