Writer-director Paul Schrader’s 1987 youth, family and music drama movie hardly saw the light of day despite its cult film-maker, a hot new star in Michael J Fox who had just hit the big time, and its intriguing story about a family beset by the lure of rock music and the affliction of terminal illness.
Fox and Joan Jett play a nice brother and his raunchy sister, Joe and Patti Rasnick, who live in an industrial suburb in Cleveland, Ohio, and play in a rock band, The Barbusters, that starts to take off when they quit their jobs and go on tour.
Their religious-minded mother (Gena Rowlands) disapproves of them going on the road, especially that they take Patti’s young son, Benji, with them. But when they find the mother is dying of cancer, they feel they have to return home to be with her.
Rock star Jett is, surprisingly, the film’s hit turn but the three stars do not really work well together and away from his more usual thriller territory Schrader has problems making the film truly involving or moving. The movie went straight to the bottom shelf of the video shops in the UK. The Bruce Springsteen theme tune was popular.
Also in the cast are Michael McKean, Thomas G Waites, Jason Miller, Michael Rooker, Cherry Jones and Michael Dolan.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4155
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