Stadium Anthems (2018)

Scott Douglas Brown’s “Stadium Anthems” is a movie that is just fine when all is said and done. The direction and production values are very good, and most of the cast keeps the film afloat with their charisma. It’s an okay movie that ultimately feels like with a bit of alterations it could have been great. I am always a fan of mock documentaries about rock bands, and varying shades of egos, et al. It’s just that “Stadium Anthems” suffers from feeling like there are just too many ideas struggling to rise to the surface, and it drags it down big time.

In the Internet Age, record labels and artists struggle to survive, especially during the popularity of Napster. Dragon Chaser Records barely limps by on the back of aging rock god Warren Paradise (Jude Moran). To save his business, chief talent man Pete Barnacle (Christopher Soren Kelly) agrees to manufacture chart-topping pop acts. His encounter with art teacher Heroin Jones (Toddy Walters) energizes him. But can he save the label when the industry itself is broken as Heroin begins assembling a potential power band and hit album?

“Stadium Anthems” is a muddled mishmash of a mock documentary, a music business satire, a bizarre comedy, and a genuine drama about struggling artists and the cost of fame. All of these ideas would be pretty great if they were the only narrative directions in “Stadium Anthems,” but the often uneven tone is jarring. One minute we have a woman having oral sex with a sex doll in her office, and the next we’re watching a character discuss the complexities of death with the grim reaper after a horrible car crash. Scott Douglas Brown’s film has a lot of good stuff in it, including his tight direction. He manages to pull off some beautiful scenes, and even convincingly (and craftily!) stages a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. I also really enjoyed most of the cast, including Toddy Walters as the sex worker turned musician Heroin.

I also loved Lauren Ashlyn O’Brien, who is absolutely charming. Scott Douglas Brown obviously has a love for films like “This is Spinal Tap,” and “The Suburbans,” as he seems to aspire toward emulating their bittersweet tone. He just tries to fit all these elements in to one movie, whether or not they break the pacing; sadly, most of what he tacks on feels exactly like that. In particular, the asides with interviews from the characters feel like a means of delivering exposition without bringing the film to a sudden halt. Then out of nowhere the narrative meanders in to random small sub-plots that go nowhere, and characters seem to inhabit the screen just to make a sarcastic comment or offer a comedic one-liner.

There are occasional guffaws, but the attempts at wit are lost in a myriad sex jokes, sex gags, and puns, and double entendres, ad nauseum. “Stadium Anthems” really deserves to be a home run look at the music industry and struggling to make it as a musician in a rapidly changing world, but it’s overlong and just bogged down by so much filler and padding.