Of the teen comedies released so far this year, several efforts have already made the grade (10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed), and two movies (Election, American Pie) have posted straight A's. To that list of graduates you can add Detroit Rock City, a hollering good time arriving with a solid B-.
The teen comedy which the brash Rock City most closely resembles is the aforementioned American Pie. Comb apart the `70s hair and you soon see that Rock City is essentially about four young men who desperately want to get laid. This, as we all know, is the very essence of comedy.
Critically, in a head-to-head with the soft-centred Pie, Rock City is a sex comedy with added crust. The script is sharper, the virgins more likeable, and, mercifully, the sentimentality less evident. Though Detroit may not have Pie's buzz sex scenes, there are pieces of slapstick - including an exploding toilet and a jug of vomit - which should distract the gross-out junkies from the lack of semen gags.
Unfortunately, the film is weakened by the fact that screenwriter Carl Dupré is transparently a huge Kiss fan. The wayward story is sheer wish-fulfilment, most noticeably during an inexplicable seduction scene with Shannon Tweed, her of count-less C-grade erotic thrillers. It's also routinely sexist: girls are either groupies, damsels in distress, or both. On the plus side, the pace is relentless; director Adam Rifkin creates suitably cut-up comic book visuals; and even non-Kiss fans will admit that the `70s soundtrack kicks serious ass.
Considering that every single element of Rock City - from the nostalgic setting to the feelgood ending - has been played to death, it's surprising just how much this metal mutha rocks.
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A conventional coming-of-age comedy in the John Hughes tradition, Rock City boasts its fair share of filler tracks (think Adventures In Babysitting in Kiss make-up). But during the best numbers it riffs like Ferris Bueller turned up to 11...