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Drumstick It to the Man

MOVIE REVIEW
Adventures of Power (2009)

Powerkitchen
Variance Films

You can’t crush a man’s dreams, even if his is to be the best air drummer in the world. That’s the premise in this “Rocky”-meets-“Napoleon Dynamite” picture written, directed and starring Ari Gold as the titular Power. He looks like a dorky Spike Jonze with a Members Only jacket and a perpetual sweatband. For some inexplicable reason, the powers that be refuse to begin the film’s title with some sort of definite article. One might assume they were going for a play on words, but that feels a little high-minded for this film. This movie is so chock full of quirk that none of the characters are even remotely believable. It’s geared toward the youth — kids and teens who thought the aforementioned “Dynamite” was hilarious and quoted it incessantly.

Power grows up in the small mining town of Lode, N.M. He lives in the basement of the house of his aunt, Joanie (Jane Lynch); although his father, Harlan (Michael McKean), works in the same copper factory that he does. Power gets fired from his job at the same time that his father starts a walk out for more pay or better benefits or something. Power tries to join the picket lines but his father sends him away, having to remind Power that he’s been fired and no longer has a stake in what happens at the plant. There’s something wrong with Power. He’s a little mentally slow, and not in a cute Forrest Gump kind of way — more in a he-shouldn’t-be-walking-around-without-a-helmet-on kind of way. It's kind of lame for the film to garner sympathy for its hero just because he’s an idiot and doesn’t know any better. It feels weak and a bit exploitive.

Regardless, Power gets around. In fact, his air-drumming dream takes him to Mexico, where he stumbles across an underground air-drum competition (where the losers get mauled by chihuahuas and chickens) then to Newark to practice with the best air drummer in the world, Carlos (Steven Williams). Carlos used to really play the drums, but he is now a double amputee — funny. The story is common “underdog makes good,” and there is nothing terribly superb from the actors. Ms. Lynch and Mr. McKean are both desperately underused. The only standout here is Shoshannah Stern. She plays Annie, a deaf girl who lost her hearing at a Styx concert and became Power's love interest. Her charisma and backbone make up what Power has been lacking the entire movie. Scenes where he is “showing” her the music he’s listening to are actually touching quite ingenious.

Power’s adversary is Dallas Houston, played with smarmy aplomb by “Entourage’s” Adrian Grenier. He is a country-rap-rock artist who’s selling millions of records but really, deep down in his heart, only wants to be an air drummer. Dallas’s father, Dick Houston (Richard Fancy), coincidentally owns the copper factory Power’s father is picketing. There is a large Newark air-drummer competition (that is televised, by the way, so the people back in Lode can watch and cheer Power on) where air drummers from around the country congregate to see who the best air drummer is. This is the location of Power and Dallas's final face off to see which air drummer is the best.

In the end, the film will work for children, for teenagers and for adults who think like teenagers or children. The raciest thing is the back of a topless woman; and there is no swearing at all so parents can feel good about leaving their children to see this while they catch something a little more mature. Most people out of high school will have a couple of chuckles and that’s it. But those younger or with a younger sensibility will find lots here to giggle about and new lines to quote incessantly. It will inspire people to see that all you need is some air drums to sound your own beat upon. One could almost see kids putting on sweatbands and holding air-drum competitions in their back yards while blasting Genesis or Rush. For anyone looking for something with more substance than air, look elsewhere.

ADVENTURES OF POWER

Opens on Oct. 9 in New York and on Oct. 16 in Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Ari Gold; director of photography, Lisa Wiegand; edited by Dan Schalk, David Blackburn, Geraud Brisson and David Mendel; music by Ethan Gold; production designer, Walter Barnett; produced by Andrea Sperling; released by Variance Films. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. This film is rated PG-13.

WITH: Ari Gold (Power), Annie Golden (Farrah), Adrian Grenier (Dallas), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Aubelin), Nick Kroll (Versacio Sabian), Chiu Chi Ling (Michael Fong), Jane Lynch (Joanie), Michael McKean (Harlan), Shoshannah Stern (Annie) and Steven Williams (Carlos).

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