MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
Directed by: Stephen Walker
Studio: Fox Searchlight
BY KEVIN CARR
Thanks to Michael Moore, documentaries have become dangerous territory. Too many people are trying to bend the truth in order to make a pre-determined statement. The true documentary is swept under the rug in order for egomaniacal filmmakers to boost their own celebrity status.
It is this very reason that makes me grateful for people like Stephen Walker, the director of “Young@Heart.” This documentary follows the Young@Heart chorus, a group of senior citizens in their 70s and older who perform rock songs, ranging in styles from James Brown to Sonic Youth. This film documents the chorus’s preparation for a show, featuring the struggles they have in rehearsals and the tragic aspects of life.
If you do the math, senior citizens who rock aren’t all that uncommon. After all, Mick Jagger is now 65, and even the members of the early punk bands are in their mid- to late-50s. However, what makes the members of the Young@Heart Chorus unique is that some of them aren’t necessarily into the music but gladly perform it when it is given to them.
This film shows the triumph of the human spirit and the strength of will. The folks in the chorus are full of energy, and while they battle their own medical challenges, they manage to keep young through their music.
Are they the greatest chorus in the world? Not really. There’s still the distinct feeling of an elderly church choir, even when they’re blasting through the Ramones’ “I Want to Be Sedated” (sung somewhat inaccurately, I might add). I’ve sat through many community concerts and church music performances, and the style sounds squarely familiar.
However, I commend these seniors for their eagerness and strength. The movie features several music videos of the singers, which are very cute and a little edgy. However, it’s not all music. There’s tender moments in their daily lives, including some medical scares and tragedy that befall the group.
The DVD comes with a short documentary of the Young@Heart Chorus performing in Los Angeles this past summer after the movie became a minor hit.
I can’t say that I particularly want to see a live Young@Heart musical event. However, I know plenty of people (i.e., those church friends and family members who enjoy community music) who would eat this stuff up.