MGM // 1980 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 28th, 2003
Everything will work out if you let it.
Travis W. Redfish (Meat Loaf, Formula 51) is a small town boy who likes the finer things in life -- country music, beer, and chewing tobacco. He lives at home with his wacky disabled father Corpus (Art Carney, TV's immortal classic The Honeymooners) and his obnoxiously rural sister Alice Poo (Rhonda Bates) While en route delivering some beer with his buddy B.B. (Gailard Sartain), Travis meets a young rock and roll groupie named Lola Bouilliabase (Kaki Hunter), whose only goal in life is to lose her virginity to rock star Alice Cooper (played with impressive realism by Alice Cooper). Smitten, Travis hopes to win Lola's affections by heading cross country with her in a traveling rock band as their number one roadie! Along the way, Travis meets some of the biggest names in rock history -- well, at least for 1980 -- including Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Blondie, and many others. Through various cities and venues, Travis and Lola will find that love is the glue that holds rock and roll together! Freebird!
Once again I am confronted with a movie that I never knew existed. I am saddened to say that I'd never heard of Roadie before this review, and the dang thing stars Meat Loaf, Roy Orbison, Alice Cooper and Art Carney. How can you go wrong with that kind of cast? Roadie is a movie that must be watched on its own terms -- while the comedy is childish and overblown, the music is rocking and impressive. Aside of Art Carney, I don't think there's a respectable actor in this whole film (and if you write me to sat Meat Loaf is a "respectable" actor, I'll call your mama and have her beat yo' behind with a soul ladle). The story, conceived by director Alan Rudolph (Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) and soft-core porn master Zalman King (Red Shoe Diaries), is a hodgepodge of ideas and jokes that never totally gel. Meat Loaf storms around the screen huffing and puffing while his love interest Kaki Hunter displays a set of teeth that appear to have been pounded into her gums with a jackhammer. Each of these actors play their respective roles with such over-the-top glee and zaniness that even animator Chuck Jones couldn't have produced better cartoon characters. Topping off their performances is Art Carney as Redfish's wheelchair-bound pop, tooling around in his house like it was a reject from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Along the way Roy Orbison pops up to perform a duet with Hank Williams, Jr., Blondie struts on screen to belt out a few of her hits, and Alice Cooper shows that he's got a sense of humor by having dinner at a fancy restaurant with Redfish and Lola while dressed in leather and make-up, all the while sporting his trademark boa constrictor. I believe that your enjoyment of Roadie will depend on two key questions: 1.) do you like movies from the early 1980s featuring bar fights, gags involving alien spaceships, and Meat Loaf? and 2.) as the Cheap Trick main title song asks, will everything really work out if you let it? Confucius says that if you answer yes to both of these riddles, Roadie is a trip that may be worth taking.
Roadie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Since this was a fairly low budget feature shot nearly 25 years ago, don't expect this transfer to jump off the screen. That being said, the image for Roadie looks a lot better than I anticipated -- the colors and black levels are all mostly solid (some are slightly washed out) and major imperfections were kept to a minimum. Aside of a fair amount of grain and softness in the picture, this transfer looks about as good as it's going to get. The soundtrack is presented in a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track in English. Well kiss my grits, does this sound great! Although this won't be confused with soundtrack to a new U2 concert disc, Roadie sports some hard rockin', pulse pounding tunes filtered through both the front and rear speakers. A small amount of distortion pops up from time to time, though it's never intrusive to the viewing. Overall this 5.1 mix is a nice surprise and should make music fans very happy. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
There will be no waving of the lighters tonight -- the only extra feature included on this MGM release is an original theatrical trailer for the film.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer