NOW TV film review: Vinyl
Neil Brazier | On 01, Feb 2014
Director: Sara Sugarman
Cast: Phil Daniels, Jamie Blackley, Keith Allen, Perry Benson
Watch Vinyl online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / iTunes
Based on the true story of Mike Peters and The Alarm, Vinyl takes a swipe at the music industry when an ageing rock band making a comeback are rebuffed on the basis that they’re over the hill. Cue the Single Shots – a bunch of teenagers thrown together to act as a front for their aged creators.
Johnny Jones (Daniels) tries to recapture the good old days through the band he and the Weapons of Happiness have created, but soon tensions begin to rise and some revelations hit home, which could cause the whole plan to collapse around them just like their careers.
If you like your punk rock music, then settle in for some head nodding goodness but the overuse of the three-chord riff for Free Rock and Roll will get tedious quickly. In fact, the entire film will get annoying before it really begins; when the band members reunite at the funeral of a fellow musician, it quickly becomes apparent that the chemistry between them isn’t there.
Jones is a vile character who lives in a static home, penniless and living off royalties from years gone by. His relationship with the band is strained, Minto (Allen) still not having forgiven Jones for taking away his income when the band split. The kids in Single Shots are just as bland as their counterparts, but that doesn’t matter considering that other than front man Drainpipe (Blackley), they barely have anything to do. The storyline requires them to mime, the film requires them to act – neither are done particularly well.
Despite the rather intriguing idea of an old rock band that’s been shunned, it’s disappointing that Vinyl is so poorly executed. In real life, the song 45 RPM got to number 24 in the UK charts, not really taking the world by storm. Free Rock and Roll lands in at number eight, the writers deciding 24 just wasn’t good enough.
With the story weak at best, we are treated to a tacked-on family subplot. Jones’ other half is desperate for children, but it turns out that Johnny just might have one already – and it’s someone much closer to home than he expected. But this thread is left untidily hanging when all parties agree to just leave it, so why should it matter to the viewer?
It’s impossible to garner any empathy for these characters. We don’t care that Jones is washed up (judging by the opening scene it’s his own fault), he doesn’t learn any family values, and when he does try to live on the straight and narrow, his girlfriend tells him to stop being ridiculous and get back to music. Vinyl records are back in amongst audiophiles in a big way. They’re a much better way to spend 80 odd minutes – this movie is as washed up as its leads.