Boy bands have been around for at least as long as the days when Motown executives were trying to outflank each other. It’s just that back then, you didn’t find The Temptations, Platters,” or O’Jays doing ads for Burger King. All The Monkees, the blatant American made-for-TV knock-offs of The Beatles, ever hyped were themselves. So it’s not so much the concept of the boy band that deserves skewering as it is the crass, flash-in-the-pan, flavor-of-the-month nature of this particular blot on the music industry. And skewer away does the mockumentary “The Disintegration of a Boy Band.” The only problem is, Pat Rodio’s heavy-handed video tries to lacerate the boy band phenomenon with a lance so blunt, it might as well be a tuning fork.
Set in Philadelphia in 1994, the video chronicles the creation of the “Dreamies;” four uncouth, untalented clods pulled together seemingly at random by sleazy manager Jerry Orlando (Tony Devon). These four empty light sockets are so full of themselves, they’ve never stopped to consider that being unable to sing, dance, play instruments, or write songs might be a considerable detriment to their careers in music. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the group, now known as “Boyforce,” achieves more name changes — 1 — than it does recorded songs — 0 — before they break-up.
Considering the similarity of the subject matter, it’s virtually impossible to view this mockumentary without comparing it to the genius that is “Spinal Tap.” These things are obviously tougher to do than it looks. Unfortunately, Rodio misses the mark here by a long shot. There’s no subtlety to “Disintegration,” the very hallmark that makes “Tap” such a screaming success. Instead, through interviews with both current and embittered ex-band mates, family members and friends, this film simply points out everything we already know and despise about the “In-Syncs” and “Backstreet Boyz” of the world.
In “Tap,” Rob Reiner somehow imbues dim bulbs Nigel and David with depth and gives the film an arc. None of that exists here. Each of these four is equally obnoxious, dull and interchangeable all the way through; the video uselessly treading water while these guys humorlessly riff on camera. Finally, abruptly, and with very little warning or justification, “Boyforce” simply breaks up some twenty-seven minutes into the video.
“Spinal Tap” took caricatures and made them so real, people believed it was a real group. (Now, of course, it nearly is.) Even given its more inviting target, “The Disintegration of A Boy Band” itself crumbles into magnetic particles almost as fast as its alleged subject.