Tonight, theyre calling the shots.
Vincent Van Patten
Running Time: 93 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Producer Roger Corman a man whos been behind more dodgy B-movies than Michelle McManus has had hot dinners is perhaps best known for giving us Rock n Roll High School, a painfully bad teen-com which would be completely unwatchable were it not for the extended presence of The Ramones and their legendary punk music.
This excruciatingly-bad exercise in sticking it to the man (or, as it is in this case, woman), has P.J. Soles pushing the boundaries of High School student believability (she was 29 at the time!) as playground rabble-rouser Riff Randell. Her heroes The Ramones are coming to town to play a concert, and the prospect has her practically cacking her slacks with excitement, so she skips classes for three days in order to wait at the box office and snap up a bundle of tickets. This being 1979 and long before the days of e-Bay, she has to make do with handing the spares over to her classmates but her own presence at the big gig looks to be in jeopardy when, in a plot turn which frankly makes no sense, her own ticket is confiscated by wicked school principal Miss Togar (Mary Woronov). Will she makes it to the performance anyway? Well, if not, she can always just wait 20-odd years for it to come out on DVD.
With a rotten line in comedy (an indication of the films level of humour can be found in character names like Angel Dust and Coach Steroid) and an appalling storyline, Rock n Roll High School scrapes the very bottom of the teen-movie barrel. Sure, theres some great music to be heard (particularly if youre a bit of a punk fan at heart), but it only really serves to make the whole thing feel like a 90-minute advertisement for The Ramones albums. By the time the things lurched to its uncomfortable record-burning climax, its turned into a full-blown Ramones gig – which is fine by me, but why not just sell it as that, instead of making such a limp attempt at surrounding it with a bona fide movie?
As it is, this is little more than musical propaganda, and might as well have been titled Hey Kids, Buy a Ramones Album Right Now or Youre a Loser! (okay, so it wouldnt be quite as catchy, but the sentiment is certainly the same). Far be it from me to question the punk credentials of a band widely-regarded as the genres founding fathers, but this particular snap-shot of their history surely represents one big fat sell-out.
It's Got: Joey Ramone displaying some of the worst lip-synching skills youre likely to see.
It Needs: To ditch the superfluous crap and just show us a Ramones gig.
DVD Extras Radio spots, a 5-minute interview with Roger Corman, an audio commentary, and a particularly grainy-looking trailer. Version reviewed: Rock N Roll High School (Prism Leisure Corporation) DVD Extras Rating: 4/10
Alternatives:End of the Century, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever
Theres something distinctly non-rock-n-roll about any movie trying this hard to sell us a product. Since when was shameless commercialism part of the punk ethos?