Rock of Ages

The Mayor of the Sunset Strip presides over pop

Those attending strictly for the real Almost Famous experience won't be disappointed, as stars from Vincent "Alice Cooper" Furnier to Myra Ellen "Tori" Amos scamper through; hilarious tales of Beatles, Doors and Zep are divulged; and pop culture scholars (including Michael and Pamela Des Barres) spill their theses. It's a generous movie, too, offering definitions of "autograph hound" and "groupie" for those audience members recently arrived from other planets (which could well include Vaughn, who doubles as "Isadore Ivy: Spaceman at Large").

Rock 'n' roll godhead: Rodney Bingenheimer (center) and friends in Mayor of the Sunset Strip.
Rock 'n' roll godhead: Rodney Bingenheimer (center) and friends in Mayor of the Sunset Strip.

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Rated R

For all that, though, what really makes Mayor most special is its view into Rodney's life outside the limelight, as a very sensitive fellow struggling through a very caustic world. The emotional discoveries and transitions here are quite amazing, and literally bring the rock experience home. In particular, a visit to his hometown of Mountain View, California -- featuring classic interviews with his somewhat oblivious father, stepmother and stepsister, as well as his lovely, thoughtful friend Camille Chancery and others -- reveals the nobility of a man who ventured from stifling suburban claustrophobia to the saucy Strip, all for the love and satisfaction of music, and connecting people therewith. Being mayor is a great start, but let me be the first to say: Rodney Bingenheimer for president! Rarely is it so enjoyable to visit and revisit one man's dream. To quote Mr. Rodney himself, this movie is godhead.

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