´╗┐ Still Crazy (1998) starring Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall, Bill Nighy, Juliet Aubrey, Helena Bergstr÷m, Bruce Robinson directed by Brian Gibson Movie Review

Still Crazy (1998)   4/54/54/54/54/5

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Bill Nighy as Ray Simms in Still Crazy (1998)

Rock n Roll Takes its Toll

When you mention movies about fictional rock bands "This is Spinal Tap" is often mentioned but a movie which should get mentioned just as often is "Still Crazy" an amusing, dramatic end surprisingly emotional tale of a fictional 70s rock band which reunite 20 years after they split. Now I am not saying that "Still Crazy" is a great movie it is uneven like the actual story it tells but it is on the money more often than not delivering plenty of humour, drama and an ending which I have watched more times than I care to remember.

20 years after a lightning strike stopped them playing at the Wisbech Festival, Tony Costello (Stephen Rea - Tara Road) who was drummer with 70s rock band Strange Fruits is approached by an organiser wanting to know if he could get the band back together to play a new Wisbech Festival. But 20 years have changed the band as they are no longer rock gods but middle age men with in some cases a family. But with a little help from Karen (Juliet Aubrey) who managed the band Tony tracks down Beano (Timothy Spall), Les (Jimmy Nail - Evita) and Ray (Bill Nighy) who despite a few issues agree to reunite. The only person who doesn't rejoin them is guitarist Brian who Karen informs them all died a few years ago having been really messed up from the rock n roll lifestyle. But can the band with a new guitarist gel or will they implode before they get a chance of greatness again.

Juliet Aubrey and Stephen Rea in Still Crazy (1998)

"Still Crazy" is a bit of a strange movie because it has such huge tonal shifts as it goes from comedy to drama before hitting us with an emotional ending. Now the first part the comedy is obvious as we have old rockers reuniting with some suffering from middle age spread whilst others are not all with it after a hedonistic lifestyle. It is entertaining if obvious as we watch this bunch of middle age men try to recapture what they once had with very little success and a lot of arguments.

But then whilst the comedy is present throughout the movie the tone shifts and "Still Crazy" evolves more into a drama about the issues most notably those between bassist Les and lead singer Ray. It's not heavy drama but where the focus was on the fun of say Beano letting rip in the tight space of a changing room or Ray being on Evian rather than Vodka now and taking vitamins we have this focus on what caused the issues. What causes the issues is that Les doesn't like the way Ray sings and is nothing like Brian or his brother Keith when they were in the band. This also evolves as they typically start to get things together but past issues crop up to spoil things.

But this evolves again with a surprisingly twist, one which whilst feeling out of place adds to the drama and in some ways the realism because "Still Crazy" for all its fun highlights issues of an old rock band. Now I would love to tell you what happens but I can't but I will tell you if you like old 70s rock you will love the simply brilliant ending.

Now everyone may remember Bill Nighy for giving us a delusional rocker in "Love Actually" his performance here, a similar but earlier one is just as good especially when it comes to the fact that Les is not all with it. Nighy's performance stands out but to be honest the collective performances of Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall and Juliet Aubrey are simply brilliant and they are more than convincing as old rockers reuniting after 20 years.

What this all boils down to is that "Still Crazy" is one of the best rock movies especially when it comes to comedies about fictional rock bands. It is not the greatest movie ever made in fact there are times it seems to struggle but more often than not it gets it right and delivers a brilliant mix of humour, drama and an unforgettable ending.


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