VH1s eighth installment in their Movies That Rock series is by far the best. A tale of a band that goes through hard times on their way to the top is nothing new, as VH1s own original series Behind The Music showcases variations of this theme in almost every episode. However, this telefilm, penned and produced by accomplished duo Rod & Bruce Taylor, nicely sculpts the emotional ups and downs and plot twists into a well-balanced whole.
The basic synopsis is familiar: band gets break, someone in the band leaves, major drama happens, sex, drugs and well, rock and roll. However, it is how the story is told that is most compelling about At Any Cost. The characters are introduced and developed quickly to assist the audience in making the most of the drama that ensues. The story progresses just how youd want it to. The pace is satisfying and although one can tell at times what will happen next, this factor does not hurt the overall film.
At Any Cost shows its strengths from the beginning, with shots of the band playing some of their best songs and quickly introduces us to the most compelling TV movie cast Ive seen for a while. Eddie Mills plays Lance, the lead vocalist of the rock band Beyond Gravity. Maureen Flannigan (7th Heaven) plays his wife and bass player, and James Franco (Freaks & Geeks) is Lances brother Mike and the lead guitarist. Glenn Quinn (Angel, Roseanne) plays Ben, their manager and childhood friend, and Cyia Batten (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) plays Mikes girlfriend. Gene Simmons (KISS) also chimes in with a small but pivotal role.
The greatest asset of the movie is that at no time was I bored. There were no lingering moments of actors faces attempting to show deep emotion from the drama that had just transpired. More of a "real" film than a TV-movie, At Any Cost is good enough to be on HBO or one of the major networks, but VH1 lucked out on deciding to green-light this entertaining piece.
The only fault that I found with the film was that I wanted to see more of its fine cast: James Franco, who brings to the screen that rare sparkle that outshines everyone else, no matter how talented they are, was underused. His James Dean quality (not by coincidence hes currently shooting another telefilm as Dean) draws us in to catch his every moment. Maureen Flannigan is absent for quite a portion of the film, and while that is necessary to the plot, her presence is sorely missed. Cyia Batten comes into her role nicely, but also isnt given enough screen time to showcase her talent and charm.
Glenn Quinn, however, has possibly the best performance of his career. His characterization of manager Ben and his metamorphosis in the film is completely believable. One wonders what is possibly holding him back in his other roles, and why we never saw any of this brilliance in his last series, Angel.
The music is the other star of the film. The original songs played by Beyond Gravity (all written by Rod Taylor, assisted by Bruce Taylor) drive the film. The music and words feel as if they are coming from Eddie Mills character and are the most real aspect of this movie. The soundtrack, which also includes new songs from Barenaked Ladies and Eagle-Eye Cherry is a must buy as well.
My hope is that VH1 takes the cue from this film for future projects and gives the audience what it really wantsquality films and great music. On another note, At Any Cost would make a much better series than MTVs mock-boy-band, one-note-joke 2-Gether.