We don’t do many films reviews, and those we do get through tend to be biopics, documentaries or simple live videos of gigs. Stadium Anthems is an actual, proper motion picture in the style of a docu-drama. Inevitably with the “straight to camera” interview segments and the setting of the world of rock ‘n’ roll, the first comparison is going to be to classic Spinal Tap but this is a very different beast. The satire here is aimed very much at the corporations, rather than the musicians. Mainly.
The premise is fairly simple. A record company is realising – very slowly – that streaming music is resulting in lower physical sales and that their company is at risk. They need to figure out how to solve this (“We’ve freed up capital” / “We shit-canned half our workforce”) and they explore the obvious avenues: rely on their existing biggest star’s new album, find “the next big thing” or manufacture a band. Thing is, their existing star is an egotistical monster (with a huge penis), the next big thing sucks, and manufactured bands… well, they’re shit.
A rarity for me, I actually watched the whole film from beginning to end in one sitting. While it’s not a classic, it’s hugely enjoyable and wonderfully quotable. The majority of characters are believable or at least believably exaggerated (though I never quite “got” Patty, the face-stuffing but still model-thin exec), and the dialogue has been well written. Which is useful as that’s the meat of the film.
It’s low-brow in places – many nob gags – and surprisingly thought-provoking in others. Hell, part of you wonders if some actual record execs have gone through part of this thought process over the last decade… and then you realise that some of them haven’t even got this far yet. This isn’t just a bunch of sex jokes with music execs at the arse end of it, though. There are some really good characters, in particular the discovered musicians and one of the execs. The story never really stalls and it all flows as smoothly as the drinks in a decent rock bar.
The overarching story has elements of the corporate, the silly and the “band striving for greatness” a-la School of Rock. It’s a nice medley and it’s well worth ninety minutes of your time. And it’ll cost you less than a CD to stream it. You know, if you still remember CDs. Sadly, it’s not available on vinyl.