Bang Bang Baby
Directed by Jeffrey St. Jules
A small town teenager in the 1960s believes her dreams of becoming a famous singer will come true when her rock star idol gets stranded in town. But a leak in a nearby chemical plant that is believed to be causing mass mutations threatens to turn her dream into a nightmare.
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★★★½ review by Fiel on Letterboxd
The first 80 minutes of this movie make absolutely no sense, but in the most entertaining, charming way. It reminded me of Psycho Beach Party in that it parodies '60s teen films and musicals with a big dose of '50s B-movie goodness. (They played it mostly straight, when it could've been a little more tongue-in-cheek.)
However, in a nice little turn, it sweeps the ground out from under you for the last ten minutes and suddenly grows a heart (a mutation from that purple mist, no doubt), turning into a story of empowerment and heartbreak and new beginnings. Also, I can't get the song "Juniper Lane" out of my head.
★★★★ review by Arianne on Letterboxd
My teacher directed this. And I was curious to watch it after seeing a lot of the concept art of it. I was very happy that it was as good as I imagined.
★★★★ review by ∆LX on Letterboxd
Hay veces que películas con una premisa ya de por si peculiar acaban sorprendiendo gracias al uso que hacen de ella. Bang Bang Baby mezcla a la par que homenajea la ciencia-ficción y los musicales de los años 50-60 para contar una historia sobre sueños rotos. Al principio juega con toques cómicos, canciones pegadizas, colores pastel y entrañables escenarios propios de la serie B; para finalmente acabar con una estética más oscura y adentrándose en aguas mucho más turbias e interesantes, llegando a tratar temas como las violaciones o la decadencia de las zonas rurales. Además, esta peli nos descubre la faceta musical de Jane Levy, así que lo siento pero no puede ser mala.
★★★½ review by Sam M. on Letterboxd
There are so many worse things.
★★★½ review by pirs on Letterboxd
Well, that was interesting.
Bang Bang Baby is the long feature debut of Canadian director Jeffrey St. Jules. He's worked for about ten years on this project and the world premiere was at TIFF14 today. The final result is quite surreal and very unique. A sort of truly disturbing and hilariously weird musical? That kind of crazy.
The musical is set on the 60's Canadian small city and follows the story of Stepphy, a small town teenage girl who dreams of Elvis' look-a-like rock singer Bobby Shore. St. Jules managed to perfectly capture the ambiance and style of the time.
Suburgatory's Jane Levy plays Stepphy and does a wonderful job with her singing voice and acting. Shore's played by Shameless' Justin Chatwin, on a character that's the complete caricature of a self-absorbed, holier-than-thou pop star.
There's more TV talent: Shore's German agent is Orphan Black's Donnie, another Canadian. His act with Chatwin was very funny, both playing NYC big shots. Oh, and Stepphy's sick and alcoholic dad's none other than the great Peter Stormare.
Stepphy leads a normal live, trying to get in America's biggest singing competition. Her plans fall short, but after a half-conscious night out with a guy near a leaking chemical plant that causes hallucinations and mutations, Bobby Shore happens to find her on a highway while lost looking for Kansas. Or did he?
Bang Bang Baby dabbles in between sweet dreams and harsh realities, and as the movie goes along, we start to tell which's which. It's all fun and games until it isn't. Although the opposite is also true. The film doesn't suddenly stops being funny to be dramatic and that's one of its triumphs. The surrealism is always there (maybe except on the last scene) and it makes you keep thinking on the back of your head: "OK, so what's REALLY going on?" while always making you laugh thanks to the absurdity of it all.
That was actually a question one of the actors asked the St. Jules during a scene, they revealed on the post-movie Q&A. David Reale asked something in the likes of "OK, so is my character really in this scene or this is just Stepphy's imagination?" to which Jules jokingly (though not really) replied: "Yeah, try that."
The songs are another strong suit of this Canadian production (people even asked to buy it during the Q&A). They just fit, the sad and happier ones, and one particular song was hysterical, F-bombs galore.
Bang Bang Baby is definitely a unique film. It will remind you of John Waters' work and Rocky Horror Picture Show-like craziness. Levy and Chatwin are a great duo and I for one am very curious to see what St. Jules has in store on upcoming years. Perhaps something more... normal.
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