The advertising tagline to Alex Proyas’ “Garage Days” is: “What if you finally got your big break, and you just sucked?” It’s a question that should be addressed to everybody involved in this dreadful movie.
Proyas, who demonstrated a penchant for creating gloomy, unreal visual worlds in “The Crow” and “Dark City,” has fashioned something equally depressing and synthetic in this tale of a would-be band in Sydney that goes through all sorts of tribulations in its effort to resolve its internal relationship problems while achieving success; unfortunately, the picture is supposed to be an edgy comedy. It’s sunk by several basic factors. One is that nobody either in front of or behind the camera seems to have the slightest notion of what the music business is actually like; since there isn’t an instant that seems even tangentially related to reality, it’s impossible for any of the heavy-handed satire to be effective (the figure of a big promoter, played by Martin Csokas, is so clumsily drawn that one can only wonder whether Proyas has ever met an agent). The relationships among the band members are equally phony. Consider, for instance, two of the five figures involved. One is the guitarist Joe (Brett Stiller), the darkly handsome, moody artist who’s endangering his long-time relationship with sweet-natured Kate (Maya Strange) by cheating with a voluptuous groupie called Angie (Yvette Duncan); we’re asked to believe not only that when a pregnant Kate discovers his infidelity, he suddenly becomes obsessed with proving himself by carting about a melon as a stand-in for the unborn child, but also something totally ridiculous–that the affair turns out to be psychological rather than real. Then there’s an oafish manager (Russell Dykstra) whose ineptitude is matched only by his cloddishness; though he’s supposed to have a a sort of crazy charm, he’s merely an insufferable boor, and it’s incomprehensible that even this group of losers would have anything to do with him. Dykstra is but the most egregious example of the fact that all the characters on view are fundamentally loathsome: lead singer Freddy (Kick Gurry) is a clueless dolt (with whom we’re nonetheless supposed to sympathize); bass player Tanya (Pia Miranda) is a twit; and drummer Lucy (Chris Sandrinna) is a punk-garbed goon whose drug use infects the whole group (in a dinner scene that aims for surrealism and winds up being simply gruesome). There’s nothing remotely endearing about any of these dreary misfits, and one spends most of the movie hoping they’ll just disappear.
Proyas tries to spark things up with lots of splashy technique, using camera and editing tricks that Richard Lester would have been embarrassed to employ in “A Hard Day’s Night.” But nothing can disguise the utter banality of this rambling, pointless movie. “Garage Days” is a dismally unfunny picture about totally unlikable people. The music in it is uniformly lousy, but one doesn’t notice because everything surrounding it is even worse.