directed by Chris White
starring Andrew Eakle, Brian Baumgartner, Judd Nelson
Hair Band Glory
Let’s start this with one of the best opening lines in recent cinema history: “In 1986 I ran sound for a Christian heavy metal band.” That band was “316”, and yes, Christ-influenced power chord bands were and for all I know still are making waves in the music world. In this story, a young Eric (Eakle) narrates for us as he does all the geeky technical off-stage work that makes his friends sound good on stage: levels set correctly, room equalized, microphones in the right place, main power cord plugged in. He’s also the smart guy in the band, a role that often fell to the keyboard player back in the 1980s. Like all bands, they bounce around the local circuit playing for corn chips and the love of God and Rock and Roll. But they get a big break via the chubby and hairpiece wielding Pastor Skip Wick (Baumgartener). Pastor Skip offers them a tour and a van, and amazingly, they catch on and get in invited to play The Bigtime. Meanwhile a romance develops between Erik and a young stowaway girl, and they must make hard decision about their future. A butt whupping by some real metal bands helps Eric’s decision process, and soon its all a flash back.
Don’t hang up on the religious themes here, this is a solid, heartfelt story of young people making hard decision and sticking with them. Parental rejection, coming of age, making it on your own, and dealing with the sleaze element of the music industry are all solid story elements and feel quite real. The Christians may be a bit stereotyped, but the band leader with the bad hairpiece is close to my heart. The music here won’t top any charts but it’s not bad, it’s an honest bar band sound and the vocalist is impressive. The dialog is goofy but fun and full of quotable lines. “To hell with the Devil!” works, but lines like “Your hair… I’m gonna fold up your hair and put it in your pocket” and “Jesus is already famous, Eric, He doesn’t need your help” actually made milk come out my nose. The kids played here are all gung-ho as only youth can be as a teen, and while the genre is uncool, the story will wiggle into your brain like sin in a Christian Summer Camp.