MRR Review: "Losers Take All"

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Losers Take All is a comedy in which we follow "The Fingers," a fictional punk-pop band stumbling and staggering their way in the opposite direction of mainstream success, circa 1986.
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MRR Review: "Losers Take All"

Rating: PG-13
Release Date: October 25, 2013
Directed by: Alex Steyermark
Genre: Comedy

"Losers Take All" is a comedy film depicting the 1980s punk scene. The movie premiered at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in 2011 and is set in an era when the life of a rock star means going on tours in a cramped van, selling records after every show, and acquiring fans through impressive live shows and do-it-yourself promotions.

The story follows a fictional indie rock band "The Fingers," which comprises Brian (Kyle Gallner, star of the horror movie remake "A Nightmare on Elm Street"), Dave (Aaron Himelstein), Billy (Billy Kay), and Lance (Peter Brensinger). Brian and Dave recruit metalhead Lance as drummer and Billy as lead guitarist to form a cheesy metal band. They start out as a group of average musicians who seem like borderline losers. They don't really think their music is anything exceptional, and they even believe that they perform badly on stage. Then, they get recruited by Greg Glaverman (Adam Herschman) who manages and promotes bands. The adventure begins from there. They finally get offered to play local gigs and get the opportunity to go on a tour and sign a record deal. Their eccentric style lures a few fans, including Vicky (Alexia Rasmussen) and Simone (Allison Scagliotti). Along with their earnest manager, the band hits the music road towards stardom. They soon realize that their dream is just within reach, and they strive to make their mark in the music industry.

What's worth anticipating about this movie is that the main actors themselves studied and learned how to play their respective instruments, thanks to the coaching provided by notable Memphis drummer Paul Buchignani. The actors actually sing and perform in the movie. They got so good that they threw a wonderful, lively performance during the movie's kickoff party.

"Losers Take All" revolves around the struggles, triumphs, mishaps, and adventures of an aspiring band that embodies the punk music in the '80s. It portrays the sketchy world of indie labels, regional touring, clubs, and the dilemma of staying in the indie scene or pursuing a deal with a large record label. The plot explores the makings of a band that's on the verge of becoming popular. It delves into the question of whether indie artists should stay true to their roots or abandon their original principles and embrace the mainstream industry for fame and money.

Shot in Memphis in 2010, many scenes in the movie clearly reveal its location. There's a shot of familiar places in Memphis including the Mississippi River, the Antenna Club, the Orchid Club, Premiere Palace, and Midtown's Hi-Lo Studio.

This rock and roll comedy features a bouncy soundtrack that includes songs by Mission of Burma, Guided by Voices, Minor Threat, Dinosaur Jr., Husker Du, and Black Flag. The film's original music is one of its major strengths. Memphis musician John Paul Keith wrote the band's theme song entitled "Anyone Can Do It." The movie is greatly reminiscent of the '80s post-punk scene with various references to punk bands including Bad Brains, Descendents, Black Flag, and Minor Threat.

"Losers Take All" has an amiable and energetic vibe buoyed by a wonderful soundtrack and excellent performances by young actors. Gallner presents a naturalistic style as the leader and singer-songwriter of the band. Herschman portrays an interesting afro-headed, goofy band manager who diligently looks after the band. He effectively provides comic relief as a clueless but enthusiastic band manager. Alex Steyermark, director of "Prey for Rock and Roll," skillfully directed the film with a deft touch. Although the movie is not entirely funny, surprising, or authentic enough to gain a huge following, it satisfies as a slice of life comedy.

Being an indie movie, "Losers Take All" has a modest budget. In some comical, scenes where the band plays to a disinterested audience, it's apparent that the places are scarcely populated. Still, moviegoers will be delighted to watch the extremely convincing performance of the actors as rock musicians.

"Losers Take All" is a likeable movie with a believable cast and convincing on-screen songs. People who appreciate music,especially those who grew up in the 1980s, will find it worth heading to the theater.

Rating: 3 out of 5