Vinyl (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/03/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Enjoyably breezy, light-hearted British comedy romp enlivened by a witty script, pacey direction, a cracking soundtrack and strong comic performances from Phil Daniels, Keith Allen and Perry Benson.

What's it all about?
Directed by Sara Sugarman (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen), Vinyl is loosely based on the real-life music hoax perpetrated by Mike Peters of The Alarm (who contributes a brief cameo early on). Phil Daniels stars as Johnny Jones, washed-up lead singer of 80s punk band Johnny Jones and the Weapons of Happiness, who still dreams of chart success. When a funeral reunites Johnny with his ex-band members (Keith Allen as Minto, Perry Benson as Robbie and Chris Turner as the drummer), the group end up drunkenly jamming and, to their mutual surprise, end up producing a track – ‘Free Rock 'n' Roll’ - that's as good as their 1980s material.

Excited by their new song, Johnny takes it to their old record label boss (James Cartwright), only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that the record-buying public aren't interested in old geezers. In a flash of inspiration, Johnny tells him that the track is by a new young band he's managing and suddenly the record starts getting played on the radio, leaving Johnny and the band to quickly assemble a fake young band, fronted by cool busker Drainpipe (Jamie Blackley), for publicity purposes.

The Good
Phil Daniels is perfectly cast as Johnny, delivering a convincing performance both on and off stage and sparking likeable chemistry with both his fellow band members and Blackley. Similarly, there's strong comic support from both Allen and Benson, while Blackley (who displays musical talent of his own) has an engaging screen presence that could well see him moving on to bigger things.

Sara Sugarman's direction is lively and energetic throughout, deliberately echoing the likes of the 60s Beatles movies as well as more obvious ageing rocker movies such as Spinal Tap or Still Crazy (it's more or less impossible not to). As with those films, the crucial element is in getting the music right and luckily, Free Rock 'n' Roll (penned by Mike Peters, who also contributed several other songs to the soundtrack) is extremely catchy, to the point where you'll find yourself singing it out loud days later.

The Bad

The witty script makes a solid point about the inherent prejudices of the music industry and gets in a couple of well-aimed digs along the way, but there's the occasional sense of a lost satirical opportunity, particularly in detailing the ‘new’ band's press duties. Similarly, the film gets a little bogged down in the relationship between Johnny and his long-suffering girlfriend (Julia Ford) at the expense of fleshing out the rest of the characters in the fake band.

Worth seeing?
Well made and well acted, Vinyl is an agreeably entertaining British comedy romp enlivened by a superb soundtrack and strong comic performances. Worth seeing.

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Vinyl (15)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 06:35

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