Detroit Rock City (1999) — Scoring KISS tix any way possible

“You want to reach out and touch pure evil! And in Detroit, no less!”

Justin’s rating: JFMAK

Justin’s review: To think about it, there was nothing much for me to like about Detroit Rock City. KISS, eh. Disco, eh eh. The Seventies, triple-eh. Still, it was the recommendation of a friend AND a New Line movie (and we all know how messed-up those wackos can be), so I took the plunge. The result of seeing Detroit Rock City cleared up those growths on my back, helped me to win the state lottery the very next day, and enabled me to start my own fragrance line (“Coffee Burp”). It’s scary what a simple movie can do.

Four teens living in 1978 desire more than anything in the world to see the legend known as KISS, also known as “Rebellion Against The Cheeseball Factor That The Late 70s Had Become” But before they can get there, their tickets are destroyed. Thus, the kids go on a quest to Detroit to score some tickets in any way possible while doing some mandatory coming-of-age stuff: Hawk shows how desperate he is to buy a scalper’s ticket that he joins a Full Monty dance competition. Lex tries to dodge security and sneak in. The stoned Trip has the idea to beat the crud outta some little kid for his ticket. Jam has to contend with his own mother who believes KISS is the devil in the flesh.

Geez, that has to be the worst plot summary I’ve ever done for a film. Let me try again.

Detroit Rock City is all about (1) slo-mo camera shots and (2) sped-up camera shots. There’s a lot going on with the theme of rebellion and how it’s not really so bad after all, and also how much disco is the worst thing ever created. The first part of the film has the kids at school, avoiding the clutches of the nefarious Elvis (an overweight security guard who has sideburns longer than his face) and generally getting themselves worked up for the concert. It’s also the funnier section of DRC, a lot like Dazed and Confused in spirit and genre. The second half of the film follows the gang to Detroit and their various quests to obtain tickets. It’s nothing much more than that, although if you look deeper, the meaning of life can be found.

No, not really.

But honestly, this is both a funny and entertaining movie. Nothing exactly so hilarious that I passed out cold on the keyboard from laughing so hard, but still pretty solid. Very nice to see Edward “Have you seen this boy?” Furlong back in the acting circuit, and the entire cast does justice to immature teenagers trying to be rebellious.

The movie best sums itself up in the scene where the teens’ car encounters a car full of Stellas (that’s disco freaks to you and me). In one corner you have devil music, reefer madness, and general disrespect; in the other corner you have music so bad that even ‘N Sync is Beethoven by comparison, lots of makeup, and hair so immense it has to be seen to be believed. Which camp would you fall into? Myself, I’d belong to the group of two-year-olds just trying to survive the seventies so we could be ushered into the glorious ’80s.

Didja Notice?

  • The opening credits montage tribute to the ’70s
  • Basset hounds are the KING!
  • The poster for DRC is hand-drawn; most film posters were done this way through the ’80s, but you hardly see this technique any more
  • After the credits are over, two kids from a previous scene come on screen and say, “We don’t have any KISS tickets.” “Yeah, KISS sucks!”

One comment

  1. One of my favorite movies. I don’t know how many times I have watched this. I also highly recommend the soundtrack, if only for Marilyn Manson’s cover of Highway To Hell.

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