Slackers with ambition, four North Carolina lads decide to rock 'n' roll for a living in "Bandwagon," a fresh, witty road movie and feature debut by writer/director John Schultz ("The Making of Jurassic Park").
Like the similarly loquacious character in "Clerks," long-winded drummer Charlie (Matthew Hennessey) works in a video store.
Singer/songwriter Tony (Lee Holmes) pens an obsessive repertoire of tunes about a girl named Ann and is so shy that he can perform only with his back to the audience. Lead guitarist Wynn (Kevin Corrigan of "Walking and Talking" and TV's "Pearl") remains a resolutely cynical latter-day hippie. Bass player Eric (Steve Parlavecchio) is the most volatile member of Circus Monkey, as the group member decides to call themselves, having vetoed Porch Key and Talentless Bastards. After playing a fractious fraternity gig and recording a single, the not-yet-fab four buy an ancient van to go on tour with Linus (Doug MacMillan), their enigmatic road manager. Naturally, many misadventures await them in this more downbeat, contemporary American kin to "A Hard Day's Night."
Schultz, who played as a drummer with several ensembles while in college, seems to have a sure sense of what it's like to be in a twentysomething Southern garage band. His endearing tale is bolstered by composer Greg Kendall's songs, which the actors lip-synch convincingly. Snappy camera work by Shawn Maurer helps move things along as Circus Monkey winds through Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, squabbling and dreaming about that improbable pot of gold at the end of the touring rainbow. Moviegoers who the fun of hardscrabble rock 'n' roll sagas--"The Buddy Holly Story," "The Commitments," "Backbeat"--doing that thing they do are likely to board for this "Bandwagon." Starring Kevin Corrigan, Steve Parlavecchio, Lee Holmes, Matthew Hennesey and Doug MacMillan. Directed and written by John Schultz. Produced by John Schultz and Alyson Poole. A CFP release. Comedy. Unrated. Running time: 107 min. Screened at the Fort Lauderdale fest.