By Jack Jones – When you look at the history of the Rock-Mockumentary, though admittedly a small genre, there is little to compare to the genius of This Is Spinal Tap. And while fans of this cult-classic spurt their favourite lines at each other, we also wait in baited breath for something to come remotely close Spinal Tap, or at the very least remind us of the great potential of Rock-Mockumentaries.
By Jack Jones
When you look at the
history of the Rock-Mockumentary, though admittedly a small genre, there is
little to compare to the genius of This Is Spinal Tap. And while fans of this cult-classic spurt their favourite lines
at each other, we also wait in baited breath for something to come remotely close Spinal Tap, or at the very least remind us of the great potential of
In all honesty You Instead was never going to be Spinal Tap. This Is Spinal Tap is the Holy Grail of the genre, just as
Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey are to science-fiction cinema, or The Godfther to gangster films. And
just by seeing the trailer you could see that You Instead would fall well short of the wit and satire of Spinal Tap, but at
the very least it seemed a moderately interesting proposition.
Filmed strictly on location over three days at the T in the
Park Festival, the film blurs between a fictional romantic comedy and an actual
event. The accidental meeting of two rock stars, Adam, an arrogant and famous
musician from the fictional band The Make, and Morello, a not-so famous
musician is a member of the cheekily named The Dirty Pink’s – which
incidentally is the best joke of the film – is the heart of the story. By some
bizarre twist and apparent reluctance to stop someone handcuffing them
together, Adam and Morello become joined at the hip and have no way of freeing
There is initially a clash of personalities due to his
‘American’ arrogance and her ‘British’ churlishness. Predictably however, while
it begins as a desperate search for liberation, the film eventually falls into
the conventional structure of romantic comedies where opposites attract. If
you’ve seen either You’ve Got Mail or As
Good As It Gets, you’ll know how this entire film pans out after the first
This is a fatal flaw that ultimately cripples the film, as
there are not enough comic moments to make you forgive the teeth grindingly
conventional structure. For every moment there are no laughs, a packed
screening felt more like a morgue, the film drags for what seems like an age.
For a film that is only 80 minutes long, that’s not good.
There was hope of seeing some good performances from some
young British talent based on the leads previous work. Luke Treadaway and Natalia
Tena have a decent track record coming into this film. Treadaway‘s role as
an over-privileged stoner in Attack The
Block showed comic potential, while Tena had a small yet poignant role
alongside the great David Thewlis in the Harry
Potter films. You Instead however is not a stepping-stone for
either actor when it comes to progressing their careers in leading roles.
Treadaway in particular performs with a terrible attempt at an American accent,
which at times he seemed to have just given up on completely, and begs the
question why his character had to be American at all. Surely there are enough
arrogant and insufferable British rock stars on which to base a similar
character. While I’m sure the micro-shoot and poor script probably prohibited
the actors finding depth in their characters, there is little to be impressed
Despite You Instead being
Thomas Leveritt’s debut as a
screenwriter, there is simply no story and director David Mackenzie rather lazily fills the large holes in the script
with live footage of the festival. The effect is profoundly irritating because
if you wanted to see the likes of Newton Faulkner perform you would have gone
to the festival or watched it via the magic of the red button. Not at a cinema.
As it turns out, everything that is in the film is in the
trailer. Even the ‘will they won’t they’ conclusion to the film is in the
trailer. What is most disappointing in a film such as this is that it has no
ambition to be unconventional or adventurous. You Instead is very much a film that starts at point A and ends at point B. To
be even a mediocre comedy you at least need to get to G.
One thing is for sure, you’re going to have to dust of that
old battered VHS copy of Spinal Tap and
relive all those great moments, because This
Is NOT Spinal Tap.