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Alexandra Lipsitz
Writing Credits:
Alexandra Lipsitz

To Air is Human.

A battle of naked ambition played out on the national and world stage, Air Guitar Nation chronicles the birth of the US Air Guitar Championships as legions of aspiring rock stars compete to become the greatest air guitarist in the world. Two would-be rock legends emerge and strum their way towards glory and the coveted national title. Samurai warrior C. Diddy emerges as an early favorite, but his arch nemesis Björn Türoque is not far behind. Will Björn s technical prowess, attitude, and airness be enough to take him to the top, or will C. Diddy conquer all to become America s first supreme being of air guitar?

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$6.823 thousand 2 screens.
Domestic Gross
$70.742 thousand.

Rated R

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English PCM Stereo
Not Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $26.95
Release Date: 8/28/2007

• 12 Deleted Scenes
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Air Guitar Nation (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 23, 2007)

For most of us, air guitar playing acts as a guilty pleasure we indulge in behind closed doors. Not content to keep their talents hidden, however, some folks try to take their fake rock hero skills to another level. We encounter some of these sorts in a documentary called Air Guitar Nation.

In this flick, we start at the New York regional “1st Annual US Air Guitar Championships” in 2003. We meet US Air Guitar founders Cedric Devitt and Kriston Rucker, air guitar competitors Andrew Buckles, Zac Munro, Ryan Kelly Jr., Lance Kasten, Dan Crane, David Jung, Angela Shelton, Gordon Hintz, “Airtight Messiah”, Lesa Barnes, Sara Szewyck, Anand Motwani, Ryan Flynn, Ian Stafford, “Roxy McStagger”, “Funky Jordi”, “Mike the Judge”, “Air Alm”, Andre Ulricksen, “Stan Kreich”, and “McInroe”, Jung’s father and his fiancée Kim Shapiro, Crane’s “nana” Janice Lubbin and his mother Nancy Conrad, singer/songwriter Nina Gordon, guitarist Tom Morello, World Air Guitar Championships founders Tapani Launonen and Jukka Takalo, and judge Angela McKay.

The movie follows the development of the US Air Guitar competition and how it fits into the worldwide scene. We see parts of that NYC contest and then tracks the players as they move to the LA competition. Jung goes as the rightful winner, but Crane thinks he deserves the title and heads to LA anyway to try to win the West Coast title. After that we go with Jung to Finland for the world competition. Crybaby Crane goes out there as well, and we follow the results.

Though it occasionally becomes compelling, Nation is too much of a mess to become a genuinely enjoyable program. On the positive side, the film’s natural arc as it leads us through the competitions works well. Things could’ve meandered more than they do, but at least we go down a logical path. That makes things more interesting since we know we’re headed somewhere.

But boy, does Nation ramble as it takes that trail. At times it looks like it’ll try to tell a decent narrative, especially as it focuses on Jung and Crane. Unfortunately, after pieces that actually give us some depth about those guys and the whole air guitar phenomenon, the story goes off the rails.

It’s when we hit Finland that matters go downhill. The bits at the “boot camp” are beyond stupid and a total waste of space. It’s never clear if these segments are actually part of the air guitar championships or if they’re staged for the film, but either way, they’re moronic.

Those pieces annoy so much because they relate to the fatal flaw found in this film: the insane level of hipster smugness. Of course, much of this is inevitable in a film about something as goofy as air guitar competitions, but we hear so many ironic comments from the participants that you just want to slap them. The movie works better when we get sincere interviews – the kind that come early from Crane and Jung – or when we just focus on the performances.

That side of things may disappoint viewers, as we don’t see all that many shots of air guitarists in action. We do find more of these as the flick continues, and I can’t fault that structure to a degree. It makes sense to ramp up the number of live shots as the movie goes so we don’t get bored before the big ending.

Nonetheless, we still don’t see all that many performance bits even during the world finals, so this side of things remains unsatisfying. Though perhaps I shouldn’t complain, as I’m not sure how much of these air guitarists I want to see. We get way too many shirtless guys who should never go shirtless – and in the world finals, we even briefly observe the horrifying sight of one freak who plays completely naked. Anticipate weeks of nightmares after you view that guy.

I like the concept of Nation, as a documentary about the odd world of air guitar competitions seems ripe for exploration. Unfortunately, I’m not wild about the flick as executed. It’s too scattershot and unfocused. I’d have liked for it to either be more in-depth about particular participants or to at least dig into the live footage in a more dynamic way. As it stands, the movie meanders for 81 minutes and never really connects.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C-/ Bonus C

Air Guitar Nation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A low-budget videotaped program, Nation showed its roots.

Sharpness seemed erratic. Some of the shots were reasonably concise and well-defined, but more than a few exceptions occurred. The program appeared acceptable for the most part, but this failed to become a rule, as many scenes looked loose and without great delineation. Many examples of shimmering and especially jaggies occurred, and mild edge enhancement was apparent. Source flaws seemed absent, though video artifacting popped up during interior shots.

Colors stayed natural. The hues looked about the way I’d expect from a videotaped program. They tended to be acceptable but could come across as somewhat messy and runny. Blacks also were erratic, as some shots showed pretty deep dark tones but others were inkier. Shadow detail depended entirely on the shooting conditions and usually was moderately weak. Overall, the programs looked mostly average for this sort of piece and earned a “C-”.

Not much came from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Air Guitar Nation. As expected, music dominated the soundfield. Those elements stayed focused in the front, with only a little spread to the surrounds; the back speakers stayed pretty passive through the film. Stereo imaging seemed inconsistent, mainly since the songs favored the left side. This wasn’t a constant distraction, but I’d have preferred better balance. Effects amounted to little more than applause from crowds, and those bits tended to stay monaural.

Audio quality was also erratic. Music depended on the source material but could be less than stellar. The songs tended to sound somewhat muddy and dense. At least speech was consistently natural and concise, and the smattering of minor effects were fine. The issues with the music made this a “C-“ soundtrack.

The most significant supplement comes from the 12 Deleted Scenes. These last a total of 36 minutes, 33 seconds. Some of these provide additional performances, but we also find some interview snippets, a few staged comedic bits, and more of the Finnish “air guitar training camp”. Boy, do I hate those scenes – they’re bizarre and pointless. The interviews are a little more interesting, and it’s good to watch more of the air guitarists on stage.

I have to say that most of the scenes aren’t too compelling, though. A lot of them tend to drone on, and we don’t find much in them that seems worthwhile. This area probably should’ve stayed with live performances and left out the goofier bits, especially since too many of them involve the annoying Dan “Bjorn Turoque” Crane.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get Docurama Trailers for Dont Look Back, The Weather Underground, Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Finally, About Docurama Films provides a quick text look at the company.

When I entered Air Guitar Nation, I figured that folks involved in air guitar competitions would have to be smarmy, smug, ironic hipster nerds. And you know what? I was right. We don’t learn much else from the erratic and unsatisfying film. It occasionally scores points but it lacks the consistency and focus to become a good documentary. The DVD presents problematic picture and sound – both products of the rough-hewn source material – along with some minor extras. This is a sporadically interesting effort but not one I can recommend.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
0 3:
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