MRR Review: "12-12-12"

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

MRR Review: "12-12-12"

Rating: R (language)
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2013
Directed by: Amir Bar-Lev
Genre: Documentary

Hurricane Sandy was a disaster of epic proportions. Even though Hurricane Sandy was not as deadly as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy still took many lives and wrecked havoc on the east coast. Thousands of people lost their homes and careers. Lives were changed forever. "12-12-12" is a powerful documentary about the talents who came together in a televised effort to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. "12-12-12" premiered on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood at the Directors Guild of America theater at the end of October and received wide critical praise for its thorough coverage of both the benefit concert itself and the behind-the-scenes footage. "12-12-12" is making headlines after the announcement that ticket sales will go toward the Hurricane Sandy relief funds founded by the Robin Hood Foundation. The charity organization is still struggling to raise money for families who need legal counseling, mental and medical support, and repairs for their damaged homes. Thousands of victims are still displaced a year after Hurricane Sandy hit.

"12-12-12" provides the most extensive footage of the historic concert in Madison Square Garden. The event was heralded as an unprecedented union of some of the most iconic figures in entertainment history from classic musicians such as Paul McCartney and Roger Waters to modern-day celebrities such as Kanye West and Alicia Keys. Even talents such as Chris Rock, Kristen Stewart, and Adam Sandler took the stage. The crowd went wild as Nirvana's two surviving members came together to sing alongside Paul McCartney, and Roger Waters performed Pink Floyd classics such as "Another Brick in the Wall." More than 13,500 people attended the massive concert, filling up Madison Square Garden and contributing significantly to the $50 million total made possible by donors all over the world. The Robin Hood Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund rapidly distributed every dollar raised to multiple organizations that were providing relief to the victims in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

"12-12-12" is not just a typical concert movie. Unlike other movies that depict concerts, "12-12-12" feels more like a scrapbook than a series of sequential performances. This film focuses on the hearts and souls of all the people, famous and unknown, who made that $50 million possible. "12-12-12" begins with scenes that show how much effort was required to make the benefit concert work. Finding artists from all over the world who could make it in such short notice was a significant hurdle, but it wasn't the only one. Planning the concert and finding ways to fund it was no easy feat, especially considering they were putting on a benefit event for a charity. Rehearsing also came with its own set of problems. "12-12-12" even documents the serious technical issues that occurred when the website donation system wasn't going according to plan. In this dramatic scene, the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, James L. Dolan, loses his temper when he realizes they may have lost a significant number of donations. Finally, in spite of the roadblocks that almost put an end to the concert long before it could even begin, the film arrives at the performances with more than twenty camera angles that will make audiences feel as if they have front-row seats.

The film includes powerful and sometimes comedic shots of dozens of celebrities, including Jon Bon Jovi, David Grohl, Mick Jagger, Billy Joel, Keith Richards, Adam Sandler, and Bruce Springsteen. Actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Steve Buscemi answered phone calls from donors to encourage starstruck viewers to make donations. Some of these cutaways provide much-needed comic relief between moving performances from veteran and modern musicians alike. Several comedians take the stage as well to provide audiences with some much-needed laughs after the heavier performances, which often have scenes depicting Hurricane Sandy's devastation edited in to remind viewers of why these talents came together. Even though many of the scenes in "12-12-12" are heartbreaking, the film has an uplifting tone and shows humanity at its best, and heroism and generosity abound in this atypical concert documentary.

Viewers who want to be a part of the ongoing relief efforts should consider buying tickets to the "12-12-12" movie. Few films make it possible to enjoy nearly two hours of solid entertainment while promising moviegoers that their ticket purchases are going to a good cause. There aren't many opportunities to see Paul McCartney singing with Nirvana or performing The Monkees theme, and it's not every day that Jon Stewart introduces the legendary Eric Clapton.

Rating: 3 out of 5