By Josh Horwood.
Written and directed by Christopher Showerman, 102mins
Radio America tells that oft told story of a group of friends hitting it big but cracking under the pressure. We open with the lead characters, Eric and Dave, as kids who dream of being rock stars under the night’s sky. Flash forward to them as 20 something farm hands, and, after their friend Jane enters them into a battle of the bands competition, they are pulled into the corporate pop music scene, becoming what they had always wanted to avoid: industry puppets. This happens in tandem with a love triangle between the three lead characters.
One of the movie’s opening lines is “if you’re gonna say it, you gotta say it with style” and there are certainly moments of elegance on show here. The movie is at its best at the beginning when the three leads, Jacob Motsinger, Christopher Alice and Kristi Engelmann, chat about their lives, rather than when it begins to deal with the music industry. Wayne Bastrup puts in a great supporting performance as the band’s drummer, Donny, he has some of the movie’s best lines. English Joe, the tour manager is a little grating and Simon, the record label executive is like a camp Lex Luthor; Showerman clearly has a great time playing him.
Whilst it suffers from a faintly ridiculous and generic plot progression, the performances in Radio America have enough charm to carry the film. The only real issues are that it hangs around for a little too long (a tighter edit would have worked wonders) and the script dives wildly into melodrama, when a more realistic and reflective story might’ve been more suitable. As a debut film for Showermann as a director, it certainly isn’t going to set the festival circuit on fire. That said, there’s enough here to make it worth a watch.
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