3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 100 minutes
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“Prey for Rock & Roll” rocks pretty hard. It’s the hard luck, based-on-a-true-story story of an all-chick band that hasn’t yet made it big and probably never will. In fact, the chicks aren’t even girls anymore; they’re women in their late thirties who “missed out on that whole riot grrrl thing” by a good ten years. Now they’re asking themselves if rocking the rest of their lives away is really such a good idea.
Gina Gershon toplines as a tough rock chick with a tough rock name (Jacki) and a tough rock attitude (bitchy). Inspired by L.A. punk legends X, Jacki may not have any tunes as great as “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” or “Poor Girl,” but she sure makes a better lead singer than Exene Cervenka, in addition to being a stone fox. However, what Jacki is concerned about now – a few days shy of 40 with only a few gigs a month, no label deal and no realistic hope of success – is ending up an old, bitter rock chick. “At what point do I become a joke?” she wonders. But neither Jacki nor bassist Tracy (Drea De Matteo), lead guitarist Faith (Lori Petty) or twentysomething drummer Sally (Shelly Cole) has any clue how to do anything else. Their band is their family, their life.
So the band – called, uh, Clamdandy – plays on, and on, in an endless grind of desultory rehearsals and tiny club shows. Outside the band, Jacki runs a tattoo parlor, while Tracy is a full-time drug mess with a no-account loser boyfriend (Ivan Martin). Only Faith and her lover Sally seem to have any sort of stability in their lives.
Steyermark creates a loose, improvisatory space around the actors, and the boilerplate punk-metal numbers are shot with verve. But the script (by Cheri Lovedog and Robin Whitehouse, based on Lovedog’s experience in her own band) is not exactly in the cliché destruction business. Gershon and her cohorts make it all swing, though – though one can’t help thinking that Jacki is far more concerned about her age and looks than she should be. When the various rough-and-tumble plot tragedies weave into a slow-burning song about rape called “Every Six Minutes,” the effect is powerfully cathartic.
No grand dreams of superstardom are achieved in “Prey for Rock & Roll,” and Jacki is left wondering if she’s still just a foolish “40-year-old chasing a teenage dream.” There are ten thousand bands in L.A. and elsewhere just like Jacki’s, but what the hell – when you can’t stop rocking, what else can you do?

Posted on January 30, 2003 in Reviews by

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