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Garage Days


Garage Days


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As the director of 1994's empty but visually stunning The Crow and the vastly better 1998 science-fiction noir Dark City, Australian director Alex Proyas established himself as one of film's most audacious and assured stylists. Proyas changes gears with his third feature, the modest but effervescent rock 'n' roll comedy Garage Days, but he remains just as committed to the power of a striking image. Channeling the spirit of everything from The Girl Can't Help It to Trainspotting, Proyas' stylistically overdriven film follows the misadventures of a struggling Australian garage band that thinks it's stumbled into the big time when its singer catches a hotshot rock manager in a compromising position with the girlfriend of his most lucrative client. Eager to win his favor, the group tries to get the rock insider to attend one of its gigs or hear one of its demos, but first must scrape together either some gigs or enough money to record a demo. As its potential breakthrough looms, the band members and their significant others pair off in various combinations and jealousy and anger rear their ugly heads. Garage Days starts off like an amphetamine-fueled Australian variation on The Monkees, all adrenaline-pumping montages set to smartly chosen classics and goofy sight gags. Proyas is a veteran music-video director, and for its first half the film feels like one long video, albeit in a good way. He initially lets music and images tell his story rather than words, but in its second half, Garage Days succumbs to its overreaching, convoluted plot. Proyas makes a love triangle the heart of the film, but Garage Days lacks the substance and character development to pull it off. Such a goofy lark shouldn't be let anywhere near serious subject matter, which makes it not only misguided but perverse when it veers into such heavy topics as abortion, severe depression, and attempted suicide. At its best, Proyas' rock comedy is the cinematic equivalent of a sugar rush, but as it stumbles toward the finish line, it becomes candy that thinks it's health food.