Adventures of Power -- Film Review

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Imagine Napoleon Dynamite 10 years later, with an exponential increase in the geek factor, add a fanny pack, headband and a burning passion for air drumming, and you've more or less got the protagonist of the inane "Adventures of Power."

Writer-director-actor Ari Gold could not be more different from the take-no-prisoners agent named Ari Gold that Jeremy Piven plays on "Entourage." But he is in a band with that show's Adrian Grenier, who has a supporting role in this seldom-funny comedy. How Gold got Michael McKean and Jane Lynch to show up is not clear. It couldn't have been the script.

Gold stars as at-loose-ends Power, who for 10 years has been rooming with his hippie aunt (Lynch) in what he calls "a temporary situation" (one of the film's few good lines). Like his father (McKean), Power works at the company town's copper plant, but his air drumming makes him a hazard and costs him his job, just as his dad leads the crew on a strike against the evil owner.

The movie sets up a cartoonish divide between the haves (those who can afford drum kits and sticks) and the spunky, can-do have-nots. Representing the rich baddies are mine owner Houston (Richard Fancy, who played a different kind of boss on "Seinfeld") and Grenier as his rhinestone-cowboy son. Grenier does a nice caricature of a smug, foolish pretty boy, but like every performance, it's one-note at best. McKean and Lynch barely get to strike a note in their earnest roles.

Determined to honor his inner air drummer and make his father proud, Power embarks on an odyssey from New Mexico to Newark, N.J., to train with a master (Steven Williams) and join his team. In the countdown to the big-event competition, he falls in love with a deaf girl (Shoshannah Stern), whose mother (Annie Golden) is a sin-wary sidewalk preacher.

As a spoof of against-all-odds sports movies, "Power" has its moments. But for most of its running time, it buys into the feel-good formula, aiming to blend silliness and social issues into an inspirational tale. Gold pushes the metaphor of air drumming to ludicrous extremes, especially in a strike-bashing sequence that's meant to depict the fortitude and spirit of the wronged workers.

The filmmaker does have an eye for detail and a strong sense of place, and the movie benefits from its off-the-beaten-track locations, both seedy and picturesque. (Utah subs for New Mexico.) Some of the air-drumming bits are fun, but like the film as a whole, they depend in large part on familiar tunes (Rush's "Tom Sawyer" is the movie's anthem) and the work of four editors. What might have had power as a short film is, at feature length, a mashup of boilerplate and bizarre.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 9, New York; Friday, Oct. 16 Los Angeles (Variance Films)
Production: Grack Films presents an Andrea Sperling production in association with SpaceTime Films and the Group Entertainment
Cast: Ari Gold, Michael McKean, Jane Lynch, Adrian Grenier, Shoshannah Stern, Chiu Chi Ling, Steven Williams, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Richard Fancy, Annie Golden, Neal Peart
Screenwriter-director: Ari Gold
Executive producers: Gill Holland, Christopher Woodrow
Producer: Andrea Sperling
Director of photography: Lisa Wiegand
Production designer: Walter Barnett
Music: Ethan Gold
Costume designer: Victoria Auth
Co-producer: Elizabeth Bull
Editors: Dan Schalk, David Blackburn, Geraud Brisson, David Mendel
Rated PG-13, 90 minutes
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