starring Donal Lardner Ward, Craig Bierko, Amy Brenneman, Antonio Fargas, Will Ferrell and Ben
and Jerry Stiller
written by Donal Lardner Ward and Tony Guma
directed by Donal Lardner Ward
Many people hate to grow up. Our hair turns gray and then falls out. We grow a paunch. WE yearn for the beauty and fitness of our your, teenage days. The Suburbans tells a story of just this dilemma. It picks up the story of the lives of early-1980s teenage sensation, The Suburbans, at the turn of the century.
Like so many rock and roll performers The Suburbans were a one-hit wonder. Today the four members remain friends, although they have pursued different careers in the mean time: real estate, insurance, alcoholism, etc. Although I hesitated to watch it, I liked it. It was funny and musical. It tells an entertaining message. The group is reunited for a revival album and tour, and from mid-life they all have mixed feelings about it - from the enthusiastic singer who wants all the glory one more time, to the reluctant husband who does not want to neglect his business and waste his time on a reunion that will not succeed.
As it turns out, their reunion doesn’t succeed. It was a plan cooked up by a big, modern music company and is a beautiful illustration of the exploitative commercialization of life by global capitalism. The American Dream. It is seductive but ugly.
EVI, the record company that cooked up this scheme, is headed by father and son duo Jerry and Ben Stiller. You might know Jerry Stiller as the father of George Costanza on the Ameican sitcom Seinfeld, and his son, Ben, from the recent popular Cameron Diaz movie There’s Something About Mary. Personally, I don’t much like either of them. But they are effective comedians.
The Suburbans begins in 1981 with the bands appearance on the music/dance show American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark, who appears as himself. (Clark has made his career in radio and television around American teenagers and their music. He is sometimes called “America’s oldest teenager.”) in 1981 MTV was just getting started, and it is really humorous to hear The Suburbans dismiss it in response to a question form Clark. In retrospect we know better, and it gives us a moment for a good laugh at ourselves.
The Suburbans, of course, are a fictitious band. /this is only a movie, after all. But they remind me about other movie and TV shows about other non-existent rock and roll bands: The Monkees, Spinal Tap, The Rutles, The Commitments, Air Headsand The Wonders.
This is a mid-life crisis tale that many of our generation can feel close to. The lead singer who wants it all again asks rhetorically, “It’s a good thing that another of my attempts at success and happiness was dashed against the jagged coastline of harsh reality?” when he senses that his long-delayed dram of rack and roll success might fail. Then, the drummer sensibly philosophizes, “What people want is just to be understood. So while youth and beauty will always be appealing, the comfort of true companionship is really what we’re all looking for.”
If you can laugh at it then you are a healthy person. I hope you enjoy it like I did.