Starring: Green Day band members, Broadway show director Michael Mayer, musical collaborator Tom Kitt, scene designer Christine Jones, show lead Tony Vincent, various cast members
Green Day was always one of those bands I could kinda take or leave. Sure, I knew their stuff when it came across my car’s airwaves, and I could usually sing along, but ever since the excellent Dookie album there were just … there for me, I guess. Luckily my musical taste is not everyone’s, and also luckily I am not a snob — I can recognize decent music the same as most people and reserve dislike of most art forms for only the most egregious of performers, acts or films.
That’s a joke, peeps! Jeez, I don’t know better than anyone else. I’m the guy who actually like the non-producer cut of Halloween 6. And regardless of how I may or may not like something, someone or someones out there do like it, and there’s always something fascinating about seeing a group of folks come together to realize a creative vision, which is exactly what you get with the documentary Broadway Idiot.
Broadway Idiot tells the somewhat simple and very surprisingly undramatic (at least the way it’s portrayed in the film) story of the adaptation of Green Day’s popular and critically acclaimed American Idiot album into a Broadway show, which went on to be a pretty good success in its own right. Interestingly, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong is a presence on stage with lead actor Tony Vincent’s St, Jimmy character acting as a counterpoint during the show’s New York run.
The musical itself seems like it would be a real treat to see live, and Broadway Idiot gives anyone interested a good bird’s eye backstage view of what goes into making a production like this come off properly. What is missing is any of the drama one would expect when translating a concept album into another art form. Sure, some of the creators and coordinators fret about this or that, but Billy Armstrong — a very nice dude, it must be said — is always there to assuage any fears, telling the people behind the scenes things like “this [stage] arrangement sounds better than what’s on the album” and other soothing platitudes. While I certainly was fascinated with the doc, I never got the sense that they weren’t going to pull it off. And from an overall standpoint I suppose extra drama isn’t exactly necessary even if we all know it had to have existed.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek this flick out if you are at all interested. For Green Day fans I imagine it would be quite the treat to see a band like this not only succeed but actually transcend one intended performance form to grasp the brass ring in another. While the outcome is never in doubt, the documentation of what went into making the stage adaptation a success is certainly worth checking out. The musical itself is still doing quite well and has moved off Broadway into touring around the country. I just found out it’s coming to my neck of the woods to Syracuse early next year, and based on what I just watched, I may go check it out. (I imagine Green Day lead singer Billy Armstrong will not be present, however.)
Broadway Idiot is currently available in stores (with an expanded deluxe DVD coming out on December 9) and on demand through various outlets. This review was prepared from a digital screening copy provided to Renegade Cinema.