Let me state for the record that I grew up loving the music of the Blue Öyster Cult, partly because I was the right age and partly because their lead singer, Eric Bloom, is my uncle. Therefore, I am attuned to all things BOC and am amazed I missed the release of Roadie. Now out on home video from Magnolia Entertainment, the film is a small tale about love, life, and yes, rock and roll.
The BOC was among the premiere heavy metal bands of the 1970s, thwarted from super-stardom because New York City AM radio wouldn’t play their music so they peaked. They continue to tour and play around the world with Uncle Eric and guitar wizard Buck Dharma (Donald Roseser) fronting the group. Roadie features the sad life of Jimmy Testagross (Ron Eldard), who was living his boyhood dream of working with the band but now that they play only occasionally, he’s effectively laid off. He returns home to Forest Hills, Queens for the first time in two decades and the film features that fateful day and night.
Pushing 40 with only roadie on his resume, he’s not poised to do much of anything and feels like a failure, whose widow mother (Lois Smith) still smothers him with tough love. Licking his wounds, Jimmy looks at his old room, his old neighborhood, and his old relationships. He sees the world with sad, tired eyes and comes to grips that things have changed. The first thing he notices is that his mother is not herself as the first signs of dementia are evident. Secondly, the girl of his dreams is still around although married. She’s a singer herself, but her music is folk acoustic, seemingly anathema to someone like Jimmy, but he listens with fresh ears.
Nikki (Jill Hennessy) is still an aspiring artist, Jimmy’s age, but still pursuing her dream in front of four dozen people at a shot. She’s married to Jimmy’s childhood foe (Bobby Cannavale) who is none too thrilled to learn she’s been to Jimmy’s bedroom (preserved like a shrine). Jimmy has to grow up but isn’t sure how.
Written by Michael and Gerald Cuesta, it’s lovingly directed by Michael who loves the BOC’s music, having used it in his earlier works. But here he brings a sensitive touch, with an almost documentary feel to the end of the road for Jimmy and the choices he has to make. The cast is honest and work well together, bringing the script to life. It’s a small movie but a good, solid movie that should be watched.
The BOC are, of course, heavily featured on the soundtrack but other great 70s tunes can be heard from Jethro Tull, Robin Trower, The Ramones, LA Guns, and The Counting Crows, grounding the film in a no longer recognizable era.
The disc looks fine and sounds great. There are just a few special features, an average Making of Roadie, some deleted scenes and interesting commentary from the brothers.