Ha ha and beta tapes, it’s Burl, here to review one of the lesser-known comedies of the 1980s! Yes, it’s Tapeheads, which, while probably no one’s favourite movie, has enough charm and weirdness to make it well worth a look! And I’ll admit right here at the outset that I may be slightly biased in its favour, since it’s about two guys who decide to start up a rock video business together, and I along with a friend of mine once started up the very same sort of business! Who knows, ha ha, maybe you’ve seen some of our work!
John Cusack from Grandview U.S.A. and Tim Robbins, well known from Fraternity Vacation, star as Ivan and Josh, two lifelong chums who are dissatisfied with their lot and decide to follow their dreams! Josh is a slightly nerdy tech wizard and Ivan is the would-be sharpie with the slicked back hair and tiny moustache; and when they lose their jobs as security guards they are free to start a business called Video Aces and set up shop in a huge downtown warehouse, which they share with a cute-as-a-button multimedia artist whose father turns out to be a secretly kinky Republican senator played by the great Clu Gulager from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2!
After misadventures with a Swedish boy band and the creative triumph of an impossibly fancy chicken-and-waffle commercial, Josh and Ivan stumble into success by mixing up funeral footage for a suddenly deceased heavy metal band they’ve attempted to make a video for, which makes them look like prescient artistic geniuses! There are some plot mechanics going on in the background involving Susan Tyrrell from Night Warning and a stolen video tape with incriminating evidence of Gulager playing his bo-peep games, which is passed off to the unsuspecting Video Aces! Naturally hit men go after them, and Josh and Ivan, believing them to be a musical act called the Hit Men, make a video for the killers too! All this time our characters move toward their real dream, which is to make a video for a superannuated soul act they revere called the Swanky Modes!
Mixing the Swanky Modes into the whole thing is what really makes this movie sing, ha ha, in both a figurative and a very real sense! They’re a Sam and Dave-type duet, charmingly played by Sam Moore and Junior Walker, and Ivan and Josh’s veneration for them hits just the right note of naïve hipness! As fictional movie bands go, they’re among the best, despite the 80s production quality of their numbers! Plus there’s all sorts of other terrific music in the picture, and appearances from all sorts of L.A. music scenesters! Ha ha, you don’t get to see Stiv Bators act very often, but he’s in here!So is Doug McClure from Humanoids from the Deep, by the way! He joins Gulager and Tyrrell in the gallery of great faces on view throughout this enjoyable trifle! Never mind that it’s not very realistic about how music videos are made! It would be pretty boring if it was, ha ha! And sure, the storytelling is sometimes lazy, and there’s an underlying clubbishness about it all! But it has some appealing dashes of weirdness, an 80s template plot, some sharp lines, and a bright 80s look from cinematographer Bojan "Pumpkinhead" Bazelli! Most importantly the love for music in this picture is real, and because I share it, I’m happy to give Tapeheads three pancakes with little squares on ‘em!