I eagerly anticipated Garage Days because I like director Alex Proyas’ work. The Crow and Dark City are fantastic, in both senses of the word.
Except for the odd shot here or there, Garage Days doesn’t have the Proyas’ signature. It’s still a cute little movie, but compared to my expectations, it’s a letdown.
Hey Now, You’re a Rock Star
R for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll
Garage Days is a band movie that follows the rise of a rock group from their small-time beginnings. You know the type: The Commitments, Airheads, or even 2001’s underappreciated Rock Star. Garage Days isn’t purely formulaic, but it doesn’t push the envelope at all. We don’t even get to hear the band play, except for a few chords at the end of a song or two.
The Aussie characters are appealing enough. Youth, beauty, and enthusiasm they have in spades. Freddy (Kick Gurry) is the surfer-blonde lead singer. He’s charismatic, driven, but not so colorful as his supporting players. Lucy (Chris Sadrinna) is the mohawked drummer who can’t really keep time, but who throws himself into everything he does with thoughtless gusto, especially his drugs. Guitar player Tanya (Pia Miranda), skinny as a pole, is officially Freddy’s girlfriend, but she finds Lucy’s mohawk and drugs much more interesting.
The bass player Joe (Brett Stiller) is the moody cynic of the group. His dad (Andy Anderson) has lived on the edge of rockdom for years. He was never successful and he’s not much of a role model, but he has a good attitude and wishes the kids well. Kate (Maya Stange), is officially Freddy’s girlfriend, but she finds Freddy more interesting.
Their manager Bruno (Russell Dyksra) is inept but well-meaning. He and Freddy chance to meet the renowned producer Shad Kern (Marton Csokas) at a bar. The plot is driven by their pursuit of this elusive Shad, who will surely give the band their big break if only he can hear them play.
Alex Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Garage Days has the stylistic quality of “hip” movies these days. The film uses cartoonish wide-angle lenses, 3-D freeze frames and rapid editing. Five years ago, that would have looked cutting edge. Now these tricks are just part of film vocabulary and are hardly noteworthy. If anything, Garage Days looks a little dated, especially for a visionary director like Proyas.
I expected great things from Proyas. Dark City and The Crow are full of moody, expressionist sets. In them, Proyas uses models instead of computer-generated graphics, and thus presents a feel of craft and physicality. Almost none of that is present here. One shot has a virtual camera tracking into an apartment through a high round window (which parallels a shot in The Crow). A drug hallucination scene is good for chaotic comedy. But mostly, Proyas is not doing the visionary thing in Garage Days. He throws us a bone or two, but focuses mostly on his characters.
This gang of friends and their enthusiasm makes Garage Days an enjoyable movie. Their sparks make up for the lack of originality, and almost make up for the car chase begun in the name of love. But the ending, upbeat as it is, squanders any credibility the movie may have saved up during the first 90 minutes.
Garage Days is not outstanding. Compared to Proyas’ two previous features it’s even disappointing. But if all you want is a band movie that’s light summer fun, Garage Days fills the bill.