Level 33 Entertainment provides tween girls (and those with similar sensibilities) a double treat regarding the recent dual theatrical/VOD release of the shot-on-location British 2014 coming-of-age comedy "The Beat Beneath My Feet." The first impression of Hugh Grant/author Nick Hornby fans is that this fun movie starring "90210" bad boy Luke Perry and future woof -worthy (aptly titled "Handsome Devil"/(Unreal TV reviewed "High Strung" star Nicholas Galtzine is that it is an homage to the Hornby novel/2002 Grant film "About a Boy." The plot of "About is man-child platonically meets boys, man-child ultimately helps boy become cool, man-child and boy live happily ever after.
The YouTube clip of the fun theatrical trailer for "Beat" is terrifically true to the humor and the spirit of the film.
Pale, pasty, thin, bespectacled (and not even adorkable) Galtizine channels every underdog loser in '70s and '80s films in the opening scene of "Beat." He is doing his paper route while obvious fantasies of rock stardom bounce around in his head. He then goes home to the modest flat that he shares with his (of course) single mother Mary in a scene that establishes the quirky "The Sixth Sense" style mother-son relationship of this pair.
Perry soon comes along as reclusive and surly new next-door neighbor "Steve" who blares rock music night and day and refuses to pump down the volume. Former teen idol Perry understands the character well and does a good job conveying the prices of stardom. The press materials also reflect this in noting that Perry does the role for art, rather than commerce.
Music aficionado Tom soon learns the deep-dark secret that Steve is washed-up former guitar god Max Stone, who is presumed dead and has excellent reasons for not revealing that rumors of his death are greatly exaggerated.
The drama extends beyond the typical elements of Tom falling for the cool girl, the cool boy bullying Tom, and Max getting closer to Mary; Tom's father being a failed musician and worse-than-deadbeat dad understandably has Mary insistent that the son does not repeat the sins of the father despite the desire of Tom to rock out.
The deal that the boys in the hoodies strike is that Tom will not rat out Max in exchange for Max teaching the boy both to play the guitar and to overcome intense stage fright. The filmmakers mercifully spare the audience cliched montages of the progression of this musical education. The choose wisely in alternatively opting for stylized animated videos in which a a stoic Tom sings about the latest development.
The first video that centers around the lore of the crossroads deal with the devil is highly reminiscent of the uber-awesome similarly styled 2001 IMAX film "The Haunted Castle" with the same theme. The "Beat' version has Tom riding in the back of a limousine until he hits the literal and figurative end of the road.
Another good scene has a highly frustrated Tom go on a destructive rampage only to have Max comment on his room-trashing skills.
Any film fan knows that our pair encounters (surmountable) obstacles and that a Battle of the Bands is a climax. A nod to our more cynical times is that the ending is not quite as happy as that in films of yore. One spoiler is that Tom does not becoming the coolest kid in school or get a huge record deal.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Beat" is strongly encouraged to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.