What do you do when you cast one of the world’s most successful musicians in your movie? Well, you know you have to make a movie about music, right? About a band or something. Yeah! But let’s not make this singer sing in our film. Oh no. He’s going to be a roadie! The best roadie that ever was!
And thus is the logic behind Roadie. A film that is part rock ‘n’ roll film and part road trip movie and part… uh, self-discovery?
Roadie is a film that stars Meat Loaf. It’s all about musicians and music, but never once does Meat Loaf get used for his musical talents (except for one scene, but on to those mimes later). It’s a strange sort of film, that could have only been made in the year following Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
Travis W. Redfish lives with his father and sister in their home/business. He’s the “world’s greatest chair dancer” and distributor of Shiner beer. The family also live in Texas in what is probably the most Texan way possible (well, when it comes to the movies anyway): the family business comes with the apparent ability to make anything work.
One day on his way to work, Travis and his co-worker B.B. stumble upon a group who are having RV trouble. Travis stops because, of course, there’s a total babe waving to him out of the window who he says is the love of his life. This is Lola (Kaki Hunter), who is on her way to New York City to become “the greatest groupie that ever lived.” But since Lola is such a babe, Travis agrees to go with the crew to help them with their mechanical problems. But Travis isn’t a big fan of music, he thinks that Alice Cooper is a Charlie’s Angel.
I just want to note, that absolutely everyone has the most over-the-top accents. Now I can say as an American, I have never really spent any time in the South (or Texas, Oklahoma whatever). But do people really sound like this? Please no.
Travis drives the crew (including road manager Ace, played by Joe Spano), but they’re two hours late. They are threatened by music mogul Mohammad Johnson, who has put on the night’s concert, a performance by Hank Williams Jr.
Johnson gives the crew ten minutes to set up, but thanks to Travis’ knack with fixing things, they successful begin on time. After Williams Jr begins playing, Lola eventually spots Roy Orbison and heads straight to him – with Travis’ pitcher of beer in tow. As the she and Travis fight over the pitcher, it’s accidentally poured over a woman’s head and a bar fight begins.
The fight is stopped by Orbison hopping on the stage and starting a rendition of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which somehow manages to be super cute and this movie wins me over a little bit.
But Travis gets into his own fight with Tiny Thompson, who’s little sister had her hair ruined by the beer. Johnson is so impressed after watching Travis take out the big man, that he demands Ace takes the Texan with to LA as a roadie.
When a passed-out Travis wakes up in LA, and is very unhappy. He then finds out that Lola is 16 (which is slightly unbelievable since Hunter is about 25 here). But at least she admits that she’s a virgin, which exempts us all from some really uncomfortable feelings here. Oh and this happens all while the narcs are trying to arrest Travis and Lola, thinking their box of Tide is cocaine. There are no drugs because an old lady swapped the boxes, which is pretty amusing all the same.
But since there are no drugs, the musicians threaten to walk out (the band is apparently some sort of mix of mimes and Trunchbull from Matilda). Thankfully Travis is there to scare the shit out of them and into performing. But somehow a spoken word performance takes place where Travis hops on stage and has a chat with Lola about “what’s coming”. And it’s, well, a literal earthquake.
Later on, one of the concerts is cancelled due to an energy shortage. Because apparently rock concerts are particularly hard on natural energy? Anyway, since Travis is pretty much a roadie/energy providing god, he sorts out the energy problem for the gig by using cow shit. Then …
The short cameo somehow distracts me from this super bizarre plot and the super strange cover Blondie does of “Ring of Fire.” But since it’s my goddess Debbie, all will be forgiven. Plus the boys of Blondie are all wearing cowboy hats, which is also very cute.
But Travis falls of a lighting rig and enters one of his “brain locks.” Kind of a shame because he’s in a car with Blondie. He gets snapped out of his brain lock after he downs a few Buds. He has a sweet heart-to-heart with the Deb, before Lola storms in and ruins the dinner.
Angry that she’s intervened, Travis literally drags Lola to New York to finally meet Alice Cooper. Totally star-struck, Lola is a bit useless. But she offers Travis up to fix Cooper’s soundsystem. He agrees to if he gets a bus ticket back to Texas.
Travis calls back home and learns that his sister is marring B.B., so he gets ready to hop on the bus and head home. Lola begs him to stay, but he takes off without the teenager. To be fair, she is pretty selfish. And 16.*
The wedding happens and Travis makes it just in time to watch part of the ceremony. Though he leaves suddenly after receiving a phone call. He drives off in his bus (that Alice Cooper bought for him, of course). And picks up little Lola. But just when you think there’s going to be a sweet little ending…
Roadie somehow manages to be a slightly cute film. Mostly weird, but …cute. To be fair, my eyes were pretty full of stars after Debbie Harry. But a lot of this film has dated really badly, as a lot of films from the 80s have (as far as women in film and, well, not being a complete dick). But rock ‘n’ roll movies have never really been made for their solid plots and well-developed characters. Roadie is a bit of fun, and it might be worth joining in.
*I had to Google “age of consent in the States.” Turns out that the majority of states in the US are 16 (it’s 18 in Wisconsin). So I guess that makes this situation a little less weird. But not by much.