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There’s also a feeling of trade-offs being made at every turn. Could the fact that we see so much of Hilly’s daughter Lisa (Ashley Greene) have something to do with the related fact that the real Lisa is one of the movie’s co-producers? And what about having Sting’s daughter, Mickey Sumner, play Patti Smith? Might that in any way have enabled the use of the Police track Roxanne in a performance scene toward the end? Just asking.
The casting is largely bizarre. Harry Potter vet Rupert Grint comes off best, adeptly playing Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome as the lovable doofus he was. (It must have helped to have the real Cheetah on set to provide guidance.) But Malin Akerman—of all people!—bears no resemblance whatsoever to Blondie’s Debby Harry; and Kyle Gallner is preposterously un-Lou-like as Lou Reed in an interview scene.
The music, of which there isn’t enough, is sadly disappointing. The big hole at the heart of it is the lack of Ramones tunes—really: CBGB without the Ramones. (The band’s conservators wisely denied permission for Ramones music to be used.) And the groups we do see playing—actors impersonating Talking Heads and Television and so forth—climb onto the cramped CBGB stage and deliver big, glossy renditions of famous songs taken right off the original records, which is very silly.
Rather than waste time seeing this movie, you’d be better-served just re-reading Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil’s peerless punk-rock oral history (from which many of the anecdotes in the film appear to have been lifted). CBGB just isn’t punk enough.
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