Flinch KISS

Detroit Rock City fails makeup exam

Finally, the boys decide the only way they're going to gain entrance into the arena is to beat the holy crap out of each other and insist someone stole their tickets. It's an inexplicable, overwrought, bloody finale -- and for what? To watch Gene Simmons spit fake blood all over his hairy paunch?

Detroit Rock City, like the just-released Dick, is caught between two audiences: the teen converts to whom it's aimed and the post-30 crowd that actually gets the joke. Doubtful KISS' current audience, the kids buying Psycho Circus (or, more likely, selling it back at the used-CD store) or KISS' Todd McFarlane-anointed comic book or shelling out allowance money for the never-ending reunion tour, will connect with the '70s references, the Fonzie/Dynamite magazine/Charlie's Angels images that speed past during the opening montage. What? Some 16-year-old is gonna see Shannon Tweed or Ron "The Hedgehog" Jeremy, as the strip-club MC, and think: "Ah, sweet porn of youth"? Not likely. They'll just wonder who the short dude is with the big 'fro.

And it's equally unlikely that KISS' original crowd will tolerate such low-rent teen-flick high jinks. Anyone who has had his driver's license for more than two years has seen this territory covered better in such films as Rock 'n' Roll High School, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused, the latter ending with a cathartic drive to Houston for some Aerosmith tickets. Detroit Rock City actually sits on the food chain somewhere between Rock 'n' Roll High School and its 1990 "sequel" Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever, meaning: KISS ain't the Ramones, but at least Edward Furlong ain't no Corey Feldman. But just barely.

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