VOD Review - Bang Bang Baby

This musical pays homage to 1960's rock-and-roll. Music composers Rich Pell and David Wall do a good job of nailing that 60's sound, and writer-director Jeffrey St. Jules comes up with lyrics and a shooting style that mimic the time as well. With any musical though, what's important is how the performers handle the tunes, and this movie's star Jane Levy proves her worth. She opens the movie with a voice that is quite angelic and strong. She croons like a seasoned jazz singer or even a  Broadway veteran. Her opening song is "Juniper Lane" and it sets the table nicely. It's a sweet and romantic number that makes you swoon, but quickly the movie becomes a dark parody.

Levy plays Stepphy Holiday, a small-town, Canadian girl who has big dreams of getting to the big city or possibly the United States to pursue her passion of singing. It's 1963, and she currently works as a mechanic in her father's garage. Her widowed father George, played by Peter Stomare, has not been able to work since his wife's passing and the on-set of his alcoholism. It's forced Stepphy to have to care for George to the detriment of her passion.

Things change when a famous rock-and-roll singer comes to town and sweeps her off her feet. Justin Chatwin co-stars as Bobby Shore who seems like an Elvis-type whose car breaks down in Stepphy's town, so he goes to her garage and stays at her house. He's smooth and charming, as well as a bit of a narcissist. He's also described as a bit of a spoiled brat. His feelings seem to be genuine and legitimately falls for Stepphy. At first, he promises to change her life and then he promises to take her away.

There's one snag. A man who works for a nearby chemical plant has a supreme obsession with Stepphy and doesn't want her taken away. David Reale plays Fabian, the tall, creepy dude who wants Stepphy all to himself. Fabian is the one who notices the accident at the chemical plant that releases a purple mist, smoke and fumes that wash over the entire town and start to mutate the town's residents.

Yes, it starts to mutate the town's folk. Things were a bit strange but that makes them even stranger. All of a sudden, the movie becomes a cheesy, 1950's sci-fi flick, or more generously a spoof of one. It just happens to include at its center the titular song, which feels like it was ripped from Beach Party (1963).

Of course, it all becomes a metaphor for how people in a small town, tucked away, can come across like freaks or mutants. When the town is quarantined because of the chemical spill and the mutations, it reinforces the isolation that people in those small towns can feel, or how people therein can feel trapped. Images and figures on television from Hollywood can offer escape, or in this case a literal way out, which Bobby represents to Stepphy.

The ending though had me a bit confused. Was it all a dream? Was it mostly just a dream? There were some real things and maybe not some other real things. It culminates in a heartbreaking scene with an actual baby that underscores that the weirdness might just be in Stepphy's head and that she might have been locked in an illusion that she needed to overcome.

Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains language.
Running Time: 1 hr. 29 mins.
Available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Comcast, DirecTV & more.

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