The Perfect Age of Rock 'N' Roll: Film Review

Unconvincing rock-biz melodrama feels even thinner when invoking legendary musicians.

Director/cowriter Scott Rosenbaum's feature debut is a limp piece of fan fiction about a fictional rock band's heyday and decline.

NEW YORK — The title of The Perfect Age of Rock 'N' Roll refers toage 27, a fateful milestone for Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, all stars who died at this very age. It’s asad coincidence that this limp piece of fan fiction got a morbid PR bump from the recent death, at age 27, of Amy Winehouse. But this is unlikely to help box office prospects for director/cowriter Scott Rosenbaum'sfeature debut.

Trying hard to create an instant mythology for the fictional band Lost Soulz -- if their sophomore album hadn't tanked, surely the name should have killed them -- Rosenbaum bookends his tale with a hackneyed conceit: An eager journalist shows up to interview a pudgy, aging has-been (Kevin Zegers) at his run-down suburban home, peppering the recluse with questions about his band's heyday and decline.

From here we leap back to 1991, with Zegers playing Spyder, a rocker whose hedonistic stardom is lazily signaled by indoor sunglasses, an unbuttoned shirt and bad manners. Spyder, stung by the poor sales of his second record, has returned home to woo the one-time band mate whose songs made the first one a massive hit: Eric Genson (Jason Ritter), a likeable nobody whose father was a crash-and-burn rock star too.

When Spyder begs Genson to write songs for a third CD, the movie's road-trip format gets underway. For some reason, Genson will only do it if his dad's old manager (Peter Fonda, treated by Rosenbaum like a cheap way to acquire some post-hippie rock cred) drives the band cross-country to their long-overdue recording sessions (cue record-label exec Billy Dee Williams, swearing the band is finished if they don't deliver within two weeks). It's a journey that has no actual purpose, but it gives the screenplay time to have the out-of-touch buddies reconnect, explore old resentments and, naturally, squabble over a girl (Taryn Manning).

The rote conflicts are hard to care about though since Rosenbaum never makes us believe these two men were close to begin with. Similarly, their love triangle starts while we're barely looking, with no sense of temptation or betrayal to give it dramatic weight.

Mere dullness gives way to an almost offensive cliché when our heroes stumble across a rural juke joint, where a host of black extras and a band stocked with real-life legends (Hubert Sumlin,Pinetop Perkins) exist for no reason other than to authenticate the callow rockers by pretending the white boys deserve to share a stage with them.

At no point during this trip -- certainly not in the band's few performance scenes -- does Rosenbaum justify the reverence shown for Eric Genson in the movie's framing sequence. It isn't until the final minutes, in fact, that the movie's title is explained, in a monologue putting the young songwriter in the company of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, et al.

Somewhere in rock-and-roll heaven, a lot of eyes are rolling.

Opens: Friday, Aug. 5 (Red Hawk Films)
Production Company: Red Hawk Films
Cast: Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Taryn Manning, Lukas Haas, Peter Fonda, Lauren Holly, Kelly Lynch, Aimee Teegarden
Director/producer: Scott Rosenbaum
Screenwriter: Jason Cadic, Scott Rosenbaum
Producers: Joseph White, Michael Ellis, Neil Carter
Director of photography: Thomas Richmond
Production designer: Sarah Frank
Music: Andrew Hollander
Costume designer: Melissa Meister
Editor: Madeleine Gavin
No rating, 91 minutes