|Reviewed by Carl Arrington|
Detroit Rock City is a brisk, funny portrait of four particular young men coming of age in the late '70s. They have their own garage band, are all members of the KISS army and live alternatively absurd and annoying high school lives in Cleveland. Their parents are lame, loony, or absent and school sucks. What they crave is adventure and what they find is some wisdom from experiences trying to snag a ticket to get into the big concert.
All manner of tribulation befall them. Hawk, played with wonderful cool by Edward Furlong, is the natural leader in the quartet and he ends up surrendering the usual "monty" in a male stripper bar. He also performs the best vomit scene of any teenage comedy this summer. The sheer volume is very impressive.
Good boy Jam (Sam Huntington) ends up angling his fundamentalist mother's values and loses his virginity in a confession booth. Played with goofy charm by James De Bello, Trip is not exactly eaten up with the smarts as he executes a would-be robbery with all the klutz of Woody Allen in Take the Money And Run. Lex is set upon by an angry pack of dogs -- which he then turns to his own use.
This movie is a wonderful, cranky, funny waltz through the burned over, transcendental rush it was to believe that hard rock could, if not save the world, at least produce enough volume that the pain was somehow less noticeable. It was a religion with very loud gods.
The members of KISS all appear as themselves in the finale concert number and pull out all of their best concert schtick and classic Palooki Kabuki make-up as they explode in gut-busting rock. Gene Simmons waggles that famous tongue. Paul Stanley glams gladly and smashes his guitar. Ace Frehley wails on the guitar and drummer Peter Criss plays his frisky cat in the drum kit.
To seek release in the pyrotechnics and mega-decibels of the KISS traveling show was to find a wild freedom: The freedom to be a teenager in Anytown, America. KISS then. KISS now. Smooch.