“24 Hour Party People” is a funny, smart, and exciting film about the early days of punk music that should give some extra exposure to its talented cast and the mainly underground music it covers.
The star is Steve Coogan, a remarkable talent who shines as Tony Wilson, a Manchester TV news reporter looking to make his mark. After witnessing an early concert by the Sex Pistols, who are on the verge of shaking up England, he gets his station to televise one of their performances. Soon he is participating in a revolution as he gives exposure to the Clash, the Buzzcocks, and several other pioneering punk acts. He comes to devote himself to it full time, founding the groundbreaking Factory Records as well as the Hacienda club, which is now considered the birthplace of Rave culture. Along the way, he watches the rise, fall, and tumultuous careers of now-infamous acts Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays.
This film has some of the best dialogue heard all year (“I was postmodern before it was fashionable!” is one of many standouts) and Coogan’s narration will have you in stitches, blow your mind, and make you looking forward to seeing his next film. The entire cast, an ensemble of eclectic British characters that Guy Ritchie would be proud of, turn in great performances, but after Coogan the most noteworthy is probably Sean Harris as Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, capturing all the distinctive aspects of one of rock’s most tragic figures.
Parents should know that this film has extremely strong language, mainly British curse words, as well as lots of drug use by the bands as well as sexual references and situations. There are also some fistfights and a suicide.
Families who see this movie should ask why Wilson had the faith that he had in the self-destructive characters, and how the Hacienda club and Factory Records flew out of his control.
People who enjoy this movie should check out the fine documentaries on the Sex Pistols, The Filth and the Fury and The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle, as well as Almost Famous and the classic This is Spinal Tap.