Locally filmed ‘BoyBand’ conveys entertaining parable
Telegram & Gazette Reviewer
Filmed and set in Worcester, “BoyBand” is an amusing film about youth culture that returns us to the early 1980s, a time as twisty and colorful as a Rubik’s Cube. People did word processing, but couldn’t yet send e-mail. They could watch a video, but where were the video rental stores? And a cowboy from Illinois was in the White House.
Written and directed by Jon Artigo and produced by Andrea Ajemian, this comedy follows the fortunes of talented high school quarterback Brad (Michael Copon). This guy’s gridiron achievements are so legendary and he is personally so charismatic that his male schoolmates believe the mere invoking his name when out on a date will help them score.
But for Brad, all is not right in paradise. There is a hollowness in his life that no cheerleader or state championship can fill. He has been leading a double life, furtively hooking up in dark alleys with some “metal heads” (as his father disdainfully calls them). Brad dreams of openly performing with a heavy metal teen band, even as mainstream pop music culture is stumbling away from Disco and toward Madonna.
Moreover, even at the professional level, not many individuals transition well, in the long run, in trying to move from a life in athletics to one in the performing arts. For every Mark Harmon or Jim Brown, there is a least one Tanya Harding or O.J. Simpson.
So when Brad decides to take off his cleats and climb up on stage, he is greeted by looks of icy betrayal when at home and a sloppy Joe on the side of his face when walking across the school grounds.
With the full-throttle launching of his artistic energies, Brad in effect has hurled his life forward like a Hail Mary pass. But will his efforts connect or fall short?
This movie is hardly groundbreaking in its plot structure, as it is a straightforward narrative that has no reason to call attention to itself.
And the story is, admittedly, chock-full of stock characters: the Jock, the Sweetheart Left Behind, the Evil Authority Figure,, the New Age Freak, to name a few. The actors inhabit these roles credibly, although suspension of disbelief is needed to accept the legitimacy of some of the relationships between characters. (For example, why on earth would Brad remain with Pamela for so long? And what is up with his parents’ bizarre living arrangements?)
More than 20 original songs, composed by Worcester’s own Kaz Gamble, fuel this hard-driving comedy.
There is considerable sexual talk and posturing, both in and out of the film’s many dance numbers. But raunchiness is not what primarily supports “BoyBand,” which is ultimately a broadly entertaining parable about following one’s dreams. (The scene featuring the band’s performance of the song “Dreams” is a standout.)
As the narrative advances, so does the engaging quality of the dance sequences. Particularly notable are Michael Copon’s deft footwork and the break dancing and other athletic moves performed by Derf (E-Knock) and Joda (Lorenzo Hooker III).
In the end, this is both a rousing and sweet film about a teen whose “road less traveled” turns out to be paved with heavy metal.
It is hoped that this fourth collaboration between Jon Artigo and Andrea Ajemian will, like its story’s protagonist, emerge as a hometown hero. Locally filmed ‘BoyBand’ conveys entertaining parable