Friends Forever (2002)
"If there's anything we're good at, we're good at making the worst music ever made. And that's an achievement, right there."- Nate
Stars: Nate, Josh, Jeannie Gateaux, Bio-Bitch, Harvey Sid Fisher, Orange Van
Other Stars: Eddy, Costume Dave
Director: Ben Wolfinsohn
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (profanity and lots of throwing up)
Run Time: 01h:20m:27s
Release Date: 2003-03-11
DVD ReviewHonestly, now: deep in our secret hearts, who of us hasn't contemplated, if only for a few seconds, what it might be like to be a rock star? It's the fantasy that illuminates everyone wearing a pair of earphones and playing air guitar, or rocking out in traffic to the car radio, or getting liquored up and performing in a karaoke bar.
Most of us have the good sense not to pack all our belongings into a van and start marauding the country in search of rock glory, but not Nate and Josh, the duo that make up Friends Forever, the band that is the subject of this deeply peculiar documentary. They cannot be bothered with things like songs and clubs—they just take over a couple of parking spaces near a music venue, plant their speakers on the nearby pavement, and start making lots and lots of noise. Friends Forever follows the band on their 2000 "tour," which takes them from their home in Denver to the west coast, and finally to New York and (for reasons that remain unclear) Providence, R.I.
There's a level of loony commitment to these guys that you've got to admire, and on some level they are and want to be the antidote to the corporate encroachment on rock, the music of rebellion. (As Josh says, "We're here to save the world from what rock and roll has become.") But there's also no denying the fact that their music sucks—as Nate happily admits, "I have absolutely no talent." Theirs is almost the rock lifestyle as performance art—shorn of the music, is it still really cool to travel from city to city, from gig to gig?
Not really, no. They live in their respective cars with their enormous dogs, who are prone to vomiting, so the stench must be close to unbearable. (Throwing up is in fact a repeated motif in Friends Forever, both as part of the discussion and with extensive documentary footage. You have been warned.) What's sort of amazing is that this isn't one guy on an absurd quest, but two—Josh and Nate are so in tune with one another that they're practically interchangeable, some bizarre two-headed monster whose idea of a great show is having the lead singer drink thirty beers in five minutes, throw up, and then try to break a television set with his head.
There's some fun to be had in their adventures, though—they encounter one of their muses, the great Harvey Sid Fisher, at a service station, and we're treated to one of Harvey Sid's songs from his astrological cycle. (Sample lyric: "I am I am I am the ram.") And in New York, they pay their respects at the offices of Troma Films—Friends Forever is even interviewed for Troma's TV show. The question you may start asking as an audience member is: who are these guys? And why should I want to watch a movie about them?
I don't have a good answer for that one, and admit that after a little while, the movie becomes tiresome and repetitive, not unlike the music of Friends Forever. But a lot of this is really odd, even if not always in a good way—it's not your run-of-the-mill backstage-with-the-band movie, without question, and is likely to rattle around your head, for a little while, at least.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The makeshift filmmaking style is a good complement to the music of the band—it's all handheld and grainy, not the most pleasing visual experience. But the transfer seems to have been well done, and is largely without distractions or debris.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: It's hard to know if all that buzzing is a transfer problem, or comes from the band's low-end audio equipment—whatever the case, there's a lot of it. Sometimes the conversation is difficult to understand, and the lyrics are, shockingly, completely incomprehensible.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
6 Original Trailer(s)
9 Deleted Scenes
- Where Are They Now? updates
The oddest assortment of extras come under the heading of Where Are They Now? We catch up with Friends Forever, and get an extended clip (10m:15s) from a later concert; with Jenn, who ran their lights, and get to see a bit (04m:02s) of her autobiographical documentary; with Eddy, one of their buddies, who offers a clip (01m:15s) showing off his mosh pit war wounds; and with Costume Dave, who outfits the boys in, among other things, jumpsuits festooned with Christmas lights. Costume Dave favors us with a making-of clip (09m:09s) on his sci-fi opus, Djamba...Intergalactic Garbage Scavenger.
Extra bonus points to Plexifilm for including on the case and the disc the sketch by Josh and Nate of their plan for flying cars.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsOne of the stranger documentaries you're likely ever to see, Friends Forever sure isn't a rip-roaring crowd pleaser, but it's got its hypnotic qualities. The audience for something like this (as for the band) is probably self-selecting, and you know who you are. Rock on, boys.
Jon Danziger 2003-03-09