Review: CBGB by Tao

published 8 September 2013
written by Tao

cbgbmainposterIf you’re reading my review, there is a good chance you’re here to learn about Rupert Grint in CBGB. Let me start off by saying that it took awhile for Rupert to appear; probably close to an hour. We have to go through the beginnings of the club, the first bands, the ups & downs during this time. However when Rupert arrives, it’s amazing! Firstly, don’t worry about waiting for him. The movie is good enough that waiting doesn’t feel like a decade of your time even if it is a bit slow at first. The first time he arrives The Dead Boys are playing for Hilly Kristal so he’ll book them. This is a hilarious moment when they say they were alter boys and Cheetah says “a long time ago.” We go on to see Rupert on stage two more times (in the club at least) and I’ve never seen the real Cheetah Chrome perform sans a youtube video, but I feel like Rupert nailed him. Accent and all! He mumbles, he never once has the accent slip, and his hilarious lip curl is spot on from what I can tell.

What scenes does Rupert have? Plenty, but they do go by quickly. The movie is about Hilly and CBGB, so this makes sense. But that doesn’t diminish from the presence that Rupert has on screen because the last half hour or so of the movie is about The Dead Boys and Hilly. As I said, the first time we see Rupert is when the dead boys perform for Hilly before going on stage. The second time we see him, he and Justin Bartha (who is very good), as Cheetah and Stiv Bators respectively, are talking to a reporter (as seen in the trailer). This is a good little bit where besides the bottle moment in the trailer, has you cracking up at Cheetah/Rupert especially when he looks at the camera and goes, “Hi mom!” The bottle moment actually sets up this little exchange to an interesting moment on stage. As the Dead Boys perform, a girl rushes up on stage and gives Stiv a blow job. This in turn amuses Cheetah who turns to the reporter and says, “See? It’s not all about violence.” We then have a third stage moment where they play two songs (mind you, these aren’t the whole songs). This is when Hilly gets Genya Ravan (Stana Katic) to help them make a record.

1375725118013-14-cheetah-play-vert-1308051735_4_3(More onstage antics are happening as well here.) This then leads up to the famous “Is that your real hair color?” scene. We then see Stiv and Blitz sitting on a couch in Hilly’s office when Cheetah finally walks in, plops down between them, and says, “What I miss?” in a very “I’ve just taken so many drugs I have no idea where I am” tone. We then see them in the record studio where Genya berates them for having nazi symbol stickers on their amps. It’s a great exchange here. Next up is The Dead Boys on the road! We only see the three of them (Stiv, Cheetah and Blitz) in the truck taking various driving duties. This is put together with scenes of them in concert playing for different cities. There is a hilarious moment, which Justin and Rupert talked about in the MTV video, where Stiv moons someone. However it’s a family in a station wagon! And then we see them all falling asleep and crashing the van. The scene after this is of them in CBGB and Hilly getting upset with them. They’re kicked out (unfortunately we don’t see them walking down the street after this like we saw in photos). And the very next scene is of them in a convenient store. This is a crazy scene where the band is doing crazy things inside and all of a sudden some other gang comes in and starts messing with them. The boys fight right back and the bassist gets beat up. Blitz rushes out of the store after the gang and gets stabbed multiple times (we learn later it was 17 times). The very last scene is Stiv and Cheetah in Hilly’s office trying to down play it calling it “very punk.” In walks Genya and tells them that Blitz is in critical condition.

How would I describe the movie as a whole? Funny, poignant, dramatic, intense, crazy and well worth the money. I never went to CBGB. I never knew how it was when it first opened as I wasn’t even thought of yet! But I feel this movie took all the iconic moments and played them out like they’ve been described. Yes, it begins a bit slowly. However once you get really into it, when the bands really start pouring in, this is where it all becomes something interesting. But even in the “boring” parts there is laughter and interest.

Rupert is fantastic, as always. His chemistry with Justin, Stana, and of course Alan is nothing short of amazing. His accent never slips (as I said) and he stays in ‘character’ without a hint of Ron or any other character he’s played. This is all Cheetah he’s channeling.

But other great actors make an appearance and they’re all amazing. I really thought Mickey Sumner, who played Patti Smith, was excellent. I never saw Patti Smith in anything CBGB related, but I just thought she did an excellent job. Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop is another great addition. I never thought I’d think that considering the first time I saw Taylor was as the drummer for Alanis Morissette!

CBGB-Official-US-Theatrical-Trailer_182124431Some of the more main ‘characters’ I loved are numerous. One is Freddy Rodriguez as Idaho. He really captured a major addict and the friendship between Idaho and Hilly is one of the best parts of the movie. Ashley Greene as Lisa Kristal is another delight. I always thought she was the bright spot in the Twilight movies, but here she shines. She’s a bit of a bitch in ways, but you can tell she cares deeply for her father. The accent is good too. Stana as Genya (By the way, that IS Rupert in the picture with Stana!) is a highlight for me as a Castle fan. Here she sheds any resemblance to Kate Beckett and becomes this woman. Crazy and forceful. She has great scenes with Alan and Rupert (and subsequently The Dead Boys). As I said, the chemistry between Rupert and Stana is fantastic and I wish they had had more scenes together. And of course Justin really gives his all to the role of Stiv. I can’t say whether he nailed it, but he put himself in the role 110% and that gives a thumbs up in my opinion.

And of course Alan Rickman as Hilly Kristal was fantastic. You cannot go wrong with Alan in your movie, and this proved it. Yes, he sounds like Snape I’m sure some will say. But that’s just Alan Rickman! He sounded like Snape BEFORE Snape ever happened. Die Hard anyone? But he makes you love Hilly and root for him.

I’m sure there will be some to continue to bemoan the casting and the movie, but don’t let their opinion sway you. Judge for yourself and go see it!

Bonus hilarity comes from Estelle Harris as Hilly’s mom when she’s eating the chili.
Joey Ramone: “I hear Stiv Bators jacks off in the chili.”
Bertha Kristal: “I’ve had worse things in my mouth.”

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