Back in the 80’s, one of the topics of conversation (as we passed around the bong while sitting next to a lake somewhere in our friends’ custom van) was: “How will our kids manage to top us in being so cool?”
Well, the answer back then (and now) is that they can’t. You can wear your pants around your knees and “Yo-yo-yo dawg!” all you want, but you’ll never be as cool as we were. The 80’s were an age of cock rock, rap, turntable battles, breakdancing, punk, new wave and hair bands. Even Madonna was cool. Face it, we ruled!
Spandex: A Father’s Tale is well aware of this. It’s the touching story of a high-school geek called Lindsey (yes, he’s a guy) who discovers that his suit-wearing, straight-laced, office dork dad is hiding a terrible secret: The man used to be guitarist in a hella cool hair band called Strykkn back in 1987. When his music teacher threatens to flunk Lindsey for not ROCKING instead of you know… sucking, dad stops repressing himself and begins to teach his son the fine art of being a rock and roll God. Yes, it’s one of those movies where the geek has a Karate Kid learn-to-be-a-man experience and it ends with a big high-school battle of the bands between underdog Lindsey and the music teacher’s protégé Vyvyn (Pronounced “Vivian” and yes, it’s another guy), but what the hell? It’s funny. It’s well done. It works. And best of all, it brought back waves of nostalgia about the golden days of dressing up in girl clothes to piss off the squares.
Actors Kevin Cummings and Shaw Sugrue have the kind of father/son rapport you’d expect from a burnout of the Metal Wars trying to raise one of today’s geeks as a single father with only a vague recollection of old Family Ties episodes as his guide. There’s just no way I can explain how a line like “Dad are you high?” and its logical answer can make me laugh so hard. You’ll either get it or you won’t.
Director Matthew Manson sure as hell gets it. He understands that our generation was the absolute coolest that ever lived. The 60’s? The Hippies? PFFFFFFT! Screw em! I wanted to rock as a kid, not pass out leaflets for the peace rally. The 70’s weren’t bad, but they were just practicing for the next decade. The 90’s had some laughs, but it was the trailing end of a truly unique time.
Usually in films about music, the soundtrack is either composed of old songs we’ve already heard or some terrible originals. Spandex bucks this trend by not only having good songs, but by having songs that sound like they could credibly have been popular back in 1987. I would have headbanged proudly to “Too Late to Turn Around” by Strykkn. Even if you’re too young to remember, all you have to do is search through mom’s old cassette collection and listen to some of the truly hideous cock rock songs from the 80’s to realize that if Strykkn had been a real band they’d have had a serious shot at a record contract.
So kids, just remember: We’re cool, you’re not, that’s life, ROCK ON!