Great ideas but poor execution and a very clunky script make Stadium Anthems a very poor cover version of a comedy.
Streaming now on Amazon Prime, Stadium Anthems is an independent comedy that takes aim at a music industry that is trying to find it’s footing in the age of music streaming. The plot centres on the travails of a group of cynical record company executives played by Jordan Leigh (Our Souls at Night, 46 Miles) and Christopher Soren Kelly (Infinity Chamber, The Tangle) who are struggling to come to the terms with the fact that people simply do not buy music anymore. Whilst juggling the relationship with their temperamental star Warren Paradise, played by Jude Morgan (Making a Killing) they try and piece together an identikit Rock Band but somewhere along the way discover something more authentic and reconnect to what got them involved in music in the first place.
The above plot synopsis describes a film with some interesting and contemporary themes; what is the role of record companies in today’s music industry? How do we find the new interesting voices of Rock and Roll? What about the uneasy relationship between art and commerce? The time feels right for an updated This is Spinal Tap that can answer those questions whilst puncturing the pompous self-righteousness of many ‘Rock Stars’. Unfortunately, Stadium Anthems is not that film.
That is not to say that it does not try really hard. There are plenty of recognizable motifs from the ‘Rockumentary’ genre including the talking heads to the deliberately un-self-aware commentary designed to make its characters appear conceited and naive. However, overlaid on top of this is a constant procession of dick jokes (the famous endowment of Warren Paradise is referred to throughout), gross-out ‘humour’ and for some bizarre reason an endless stream of Star Wars references. The result is a smart premise that then proceeds to insult the intelligence of its audience for the duration of its run time.
The performances are spirited but unpolished and the cast does their best with a clunky and awkward script. Stadium Anthems is drowning in sub-plots and un-finished thoughts, there is the new band they create, Vaderland and the dysfunctional dynamic of the members, not to mention the sex doll that serves as their drummer (yes that’s right, sex doll for a drummer); there is the A&R man’s relationship with his wife, herself an ex-rock star and now Vaderland’s manager; Warren Paradise’s lifestyle brand/p**n channel and how he abandons it to reconnect with his ex-bandmate and rediscover why he got into music in the first place. There is no room for any of these stories to be explored properly, partly because there are so many of them and partly because the story keeps pausing for sub-par Porky’s style gags about sex dolls, milking the prostate and Star Wars (again, why all the Star Wars?)
One thing Stadium Anthems does have going for it is its original soundtrack which can often be heard playing in the background of scenes but that is scant consolation for what is otherwise a bit of slog that outstays it’s welcome and leaves you hoping a for a more balanced treatment of an interesting concept.