Roadie is directed by Alan Rudolph who was Robert Altman’s assistant director on many of his exceptional films like The Long Goodbye and Nashville. Rudolph after his involvement with Altman made the Altman esq. Welcome to L.A. and eventually would become a minor indie auteur with films like Trouble in Mind and The Moderns in the mid to late ’80s. Roadie is one of his earlier films and is very much a product of the lay-off of ’70s rock attitudes towards woman but also touches on the new wave scene of late ’70s/early ’80s.
Any film where the basic plot consists of Meat Loaf playing a Roadie who is trying to score for the entire film with a 16-year-old groupie Lola (Kaki Hunter) is going to be problematic in our now overly politically correct time. The relationship between the two does however come off as a bit sleazy and one dvd release cover literally is just a picture of an unidentified woman’s low-cut shirt showing tons of cleavage. The character Meat Loaf plays is a hick simpleton who gets “brain-lock” throughout the film who just stumbles into becoming the best Roadie in the business. It’s no surprise Meat Loaf’s film career didn’t really take off till Fincher gave him some “bitch tits” in Fight Club with the obvious exception of his classic scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The film succeeds however is some other regards, the film is loaded with cameos from Roy Orbison, Alice Cooper, Hawk Williams, Jr. and Blondie. One of the film’s major plot points is Lola wants to lose her virginity to “The Bela Lugosi of Rock N’ Roll” Alice Cooper. Roy Orbison has a fun little cameo but sparks fly when Debbie Harry shows up it completely electrifies the screen. It’s interest that the same week her best screen performance in Videodrome comes in a lavish boxset from Arrow Video this also comes out. It’s a shame she never got more juicy roles because if any “rock star” had charisma and street cool it was certainly Debbie Harry.
Blondie’s segment includes a fantastic cover of Johnny Cash’s immortal Ring of Fire and they eventually get into a food fight in a country & western bar. Alice Cooper has some nice moments but it’s at one of the low points of his career when he had shredded a lot of his edge and went towards a more MOR sound before he was reinvigorated by punk rock with his records in the early ’80s. Overall Roadie remains a fascinating silly comedy that is very much of its time including its problematic attitudes towards Women but just about doesn’t outstays it’s welcome.
Comedy, Musical |USA, 1980 | 12 |Fabulous Films |17th August 2015 (UK) |Dir.Alan Rudolph | Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter, Art Carney, Alice Cooper, Gailard Sartain | Buy:Roadie [Blu-ray]