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Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003)

You Should Have Been There ...

Directed by:

George Hickenlooper

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Rodney Bingenheimer is his name. If it doesn’t ring any bells, then it probably means you’re not a) Mick Jagger b) David Bowie c) anyone else who’s been big on the US music scene from the 1960s onwards. So, fellow plebs, now’s your chance to find out all about the man who the stars love but, at the same time, appear to have been keeping to themselves. Or, at least, it would be your chance to find out all about him, were it not for the fact that George Hickenlooper’s documentary film is so massively uninsightful.

Using talking-head interviews with the man himself and the A-listers who seemingly can’t get enough of him, combined with a smattering of archive footage, Hickenlooper’s flick purports to tell the story of a man who started out life as the school nerd, progressed to glorified rock groupie, and now sits as one of America’s most influential radio DJs. It seems like a fascinating story, but unfortunately it’s one that the director struggles to tell with any lasting effect.

Of course, we do get to learn some things about Bingenheimer. A trip to his house, which looks just one step up from a special tramp’s edition of ‘MTV Cribs’, reveals that he’s made very little money from his career. We discover he was turned down for Davy Jones’ part in the The Monkees, but was kept on as a look-a-like. And, most interestingly of all, we get the occasional brief glimpse of what he really is: a sad, nervous and deeply-insecure little man. Then again, with that appalling haircut it’s hardly surprising he’s not Mr Confidence.

But there’s no delving, no analysis, and no pressing Bingenheimer for his opinions on love, life, music or anything else that might have been interesting. I ejected the DVD knowing who Rodney Bingenheimer is, but nothing about what makes him tick.

It's Got: Sonny and Cher as Rodney’s mum and dad, The Monkees as his brothers, and Alice Cooper as the strange uncle that nobody likes to talk about.

It Needs: To go further behind the music.

DVD Extras Tartan Video’s standard trailer reel is accompanied by a choice of audio commentary (either Hickenlooper or Bingenheimer with pal Chris Carter) and a series of interviews with the likes of David Bowie, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani. Version reviewed: Mayor Of Sunset Strip (Tartan Video) DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Summary

This attempted look inside the life of the music industry’s number 1 name-dropper fails to gaze deeply enough.

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