Sunday, January 31, 2016

#1,994. Roadie (1980)

Directed By: Alan Rudolph

Starring: Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter, Art Carney

Tag line: "The ultimate rock 'n' roll fantasy"

Trivia: First lead role in a film as an actor for rock singer Meat Loaf

Roadie, a strangely uneven musical / comedy directed by Alan Rudolph, stars rock and roll’s own Meat Loaf as Travis W. Redfish, a Texas good ‘ole boy who, along with his best friend / co-pilot B.B. (Gailard Sartain), drives a beer truck for a living. What’s more, Travis is an electronics wiz, and can fix just about anything that his pa, Corpus (Art Carney), breaks.

One day, while making their deliveries, Travis and B.B. spot an RV on the side of the road. At first, they intend to pass it by, but when Travis spies a beauty staring at him from the back of the RV, his heart skips a beat and he immediately pulls over. The girl is Lola (Kaki Hunter), a rock and roll groupie, and the RV is carrying equipment for Glen Campbell, Jr., who has a concert later that night in Austin. Travis fixes the RV in a matter of minutes, leading the road manager, Ace (Joe Spano), to invite him along for the rest of the tour. Travis agrees, and even takes over the driving duties. When they arrive in Austin two hours late, Travis again saves the day by setting the equipment up in 10 minutes flat. As a result, Mohammed Johnson (Don Cornelius), the biggest promoter in the United States, offers Travis a job as a roadie. But Travis only has eyes for Lola, and as long as she stays with the tour, he’ll be there as well.

Thus begins an adventure that will take the love-struck duo cross-country, eventually landing them in New York City, where Lola hopes to hook up with rock star Alice Cooper. But will she lose her virginity to the famous musician (as she originally planned), or will she choose Travis instead?

While it doesn’t feature as many live performances as it probably should have, the few musical sequences there are in Roadie are entertaining (the best of which has Blondie and her band covering Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire"). I also liked Roy Orbison’s brief cameo (he shows up at Glen Campbell Jr.’s Austin gig), though I wish they’d have let him hang around a bit longer (Orbison joins Campbell on-stage for no more than a minute, to help quiet the crowd when a fight breaks out).

As the two leads, Meat Loaf and Kaki Hunter have some strong scenes together (the best of which occurs during a concert, when, while talking to each other via a pair of microphones, the two inadvertently become part of the act). Unfortunately, their personalities are all over the place. One moment, Travis is a naïve hick who doesn’t understand the ways of the world, and the next he’s building an intricate machine that turns cow shit into electricity. As for Lola, she seems genuinely interested in Travis most of the time, yet there are scenes that suggest it’s all an act to ensure he stays with the tour. Even as a couple, they go from warm and loving to angry and manipulative in the blink of an eye, making it difficult to get a handle on either of them.

Still, Meat Loaf is a likable lead, and I especially enjoyed the scenes featuring him and Art Carney (as Travis’ laid-back dad, Carney delivers what is arguably the film’s most endearing performance). It’s hard to ultimately recommend Roadie, what with all the issues I had with the movie, but at the same time I’m not sorry I saw it.

And there’s a good chance you'll feel the exact same way.

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