Clunky Welsh comedy starring Keith Allen and Phil Daniels as ageing punk rockers
This clunky punk rock comedy from Welsh filmmaker Sara Sugarman has its heart in the right place, but despite a decent ‘inspired by real events’ premise and some solid performances, it’s crippled by a half-baked script and a reliance upon cringe-inducingly weak humour. Based on the ‘rock‘n’roll swindle’ carried out by punk veteran Mike Peters and his band The Alarm in 2004, Vinyl is about Johnny Jones (Phil Daniels), caravan-dwelling ex-lead singer of former punk heroes the Weapons of Happiness. In the face of music industry indifference at his attempt to make a comeback, Jones and his aging bandmates decide to manufacture a younger, prettier, fake band as a lip-syncing front to get their new song on the radio. The plan works, but quickly escalates out of Jones’ control as he tries to conceal the truth from record companies, hold off the increasing demands of band members real and fake, and maintain his long-term girlfriend’s hope to settle down and start a family.
After an opening packed with first-draft-level dialogue (at one point Daniels actually says, 'I’m all washed up!'), things pick up as the old band reunite. Perry Benson is funny as the former bassist, now proud owner of a chain of nursing homes, and Keith Allen’s pre-existing rock‘n’roll dad persona makes him a fine fit as the drummer. But Sugarman and co-writer Jim Cooper’s script relies too heavily on the inherent funniness of these personalities, offering little wit or sharp dialogue. The dramatic elements are even less successful, with characters so sketchily drawn that we have no reason to care about their fall outs and frustrations. Peters’ original prank made a valid point about the music industry’s obsession with new artists, but Sugarman winds this story to a formulaic, feel good conclusion that feels more conforming than the punk spirit that inspired it.
Limited release from Fri 15 Mar.