“MOCK AND ROLL”— A Rockumentary


A Rockumentary

Amos Lassen

The Ohio parody band Liberty Mean is tapped out, clueless and struggling to raise the needed money to get to the South by Southwest Music Festival where they hope that their dreams will become reality. Unfortunately, bad decisions and absurd circumstances lead the band down a dark and strange road as they try to reach their goals in this parody of rock and roll reverie. 

The film features special appearances by Roger Earl of the British band Foghat, the North Coast’s Michael Stanley, and Alex Ortiz, the comedian from Comedy Central and HBO. This is the story of ”never-beens” who have crazy visions that play against the odds.

Not nearly as over the top as the classic band mockumentary “Spinal Tap”, fans will appreciate and commiserate with the film’s band while laughing at and agreeing with many of their schemes.

 “We are the best damn Black Owls parody band in the land!” shouts Bun, the drummer for Liberty Mean. This linesays everything about “Mock and Roll”, a movie that asks as many questions as it answers.

Liberty Mean is a four-piece unit of clueless Millennials—comprised of Robin, Tom, Rick and Bun who parody another local band, The Black Owls, for a tiny crowd of followers at various dive bars around Columbus.  The band is basically using their minimal fame to cobble together a documentary that Robin’s brother—Sully—is filming for the band’s archives.  

In the spirit of ‘Spinal Tap,’ ‘Best of Show,’ ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and ‘Fargo’—‘Mock and Roll’ follows the life of the band, who come up with insane ideas on how to expand their audience (and revenue).  At first they parodied bigger acts but those never got off the ground.  Then they decided to parody their favorite local band, The Black Owls and rewrite lyrics to the band’s tunes.  

Like most bands, Liberty Mean wants to expand their fan base by playing to larger audiences, so they come up with the crazy notion that they should attend South by Southwest (SWSW), the largest music festival in the United States.  They have no plan other than to attend the event in Texas: they aren’t booked for the event and have no contacts there.  They  feel they have to go and think that the trip to Austin would make all other details would miraculously fall into place.

The band makes several failed attempts to raise money for the cause: their crowd-funding page (managed by the guitarist’s girlfriend) only raises $27.50, and their gigs pay slightly more than that.  They decide to lend their bodies (and minds) to science in an attempt to raise quick cash, but the ensuing acid trips administered by a local quack only have negative effects on the band. Bun has a bad trip, quits the band, and considers a solo career (“I can sing too!” he bellows).  After a brief hiatus, Bun rejoins the band and comes up with a third plan: his cousin needs help delivering art, so he talks the band into taking on these shady courier jobs.

The writer and producer, Mark Stewart, says he has no political or social message to convey to his audience, but I found plenty to think about. However all ideas are basically based upon the idea that one must learn the lessons from their decisions and ultimately pay the price.  

There are many absurd moments and there keep the movie going forward. If you like music, comedy, satire and silliness then this is definitely the movie for you.  The film feels and looks like a television documentary, but with the irreverent humor and slapstick of a comedy, designed to “mock” the documentary or subject it features.

The 95-minute film has already won acclaim on the independent film festival circuit, winning Best Feature at the Inside The Loop Film Festival (Sharonville, OH). It was nominated for Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Editor, Best Poster, Best Feature Actor (Chris Wolfe) and Best Feature Actress (Aditi Molly Bhanja) at the Austin Revolution Film Festival (TX). It was also nominated for Best Feature and Best Original Score at the EyeCatcher International Film Festival (OK).

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