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Alan Rudolph
Meat Loaf
Writing Credits:
Big Boy Medlin, Michael Ventura, Zalman King, Alan Rudolph

Bands make it rock, but roadies make it roll.

Down-home Texas boy Travis Redfish (Meat Loaf) falls hard for Lola, a glitter-spangled groupie determined to lose her virginity to Alice Cooper. Hoping to woo her, Travis signs on with a traveling rock band and soon finds himself celebrated as the "greatest roadie of all time"! But Lola's date with destiny (and Cooper) looms. Can true love survive rock'n'roll?

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0
English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 8/20/2013

• Audio Commentary with Writers James “Big Boy” Medlin and Michael Ventura
• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Roadie [Blu-Ray] (1980)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 30, 2013)

My first sign that 1980’s Roadie might not offer a very interesting flick: it’s rated “PG”! Admittedly, “PG” was broader back before the invention of “PG-13” in 1984, and some movies with that rating pushed the “R” envelope pretty hard. Given Roadie’s subject matter, I expected that to be the case.

However, that didn’t happen. A bizarre little fable, Roadie occasionally flirts with rugged subject matter, but it mostly remained strangely innocent and innocuous. Roadie follows Texas trucker Travis Redfish (Meat Loaf). His father Corpus C. Redfish (Art Carney) owns a salvage business, and Travis lives at home with dad and his sister Alice (Rhonda Bates).

Travis stops to help a busted-down RV because he sees a babe in the vehicle. They’re hauling the equipment for Hank Williams Jr., and Travis meets Lola (Kaki Hunter), a young woman on her way to New York City to meet Alice Cooper and become the “greatest groupie of all-time”. Because he’s infatuated with Lola, Travis agrees to drive the equipment to Austin.

On the way, Travis gets to know Lola. She claims that Cooper invited her to New York, but it soon becomes clear that she doesn’t actually know the singer.

When they get to the gig, Travis displays extraordinary skills as a roadie. After he experiences “brainlock” following a fight, manager Ace (Joe Spano) and promoter Mohammed Johnson (Don Cornelius) get Lola to entice Travis into becoming a full-time roadie.

The rest of the movie follows Travis, Lola and others on the road. They first go to Los Angeles, where Travis learns more revelations about his would-be sweetie. The film pursues their journey as a potential couple as they travel inexorably toward the climax in New York.

Like other early Eighties flicks such as Used Cars, Roadie is the kind of flick that probably seemed hilarious at the time but that hasn’t aged well. Roadie features only the most rudimentary of plots, as the story really feels like little more than an excuse for marginally connected gags and musical cameos.

The movie features a lot of real-life acts; in addition to Hank Williams Jr. and Alice Cooper, we see performances from Roy Orbison, Blondie, and Asleep At the Wheel. It’s an unusual mélange of genres that functions sporadically well but doesn’t really add much to the movie. If anything, the concert sequences seem like little more than filler.

Most of the artists simply play music, but some act as well. Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Cooper get the chance to flex their acting muscles to a moderate degree, and this creates a little fun. Neither do much in their parts, but it’s neat to see them try to act.

Of course, a musician turned actor plays our lead as well. At the start of the film, Loaf seems exceptionally flat and uninspired. However, he starts to come to life as the movie progresses. He seems cartoony early, but he turns more natural and confident as time passes. His work isn’t terrific, but it appears acceptable.

Granted, it helps that Roadie is little more than a cartoon fable anyway. It tends toward broad comedy mixed with stabs at romance between Lola and Travis. Neither element ignites. The gags feel like Saturday Night Live rejects such as one with a cocaine-filled detergent box. Other attempts at humor seem equally lame and obnoxious, such as Mohammed’s constant misuse of the name “Redfish”.

Roadie seems like an odd and fairly pointless semi-satirical fantasy. At times it feels like a self-conscious attempt to mock other conventions; for example, the gratuitous car chase clearly knows that it’s gratuitous.

However, Roadie doesn’t enjoy the smarts or cohesion to make it a more pointed experience. Instead, it meanders through unfunny and dopey comedic sketches and sporadically effective musical performances. Generally loud and annoying, Roadie fails to engage the viewer.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C-/ Bonus C+

Roadie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though the movie could look quite good at times, it came with more than a few issues.

The most obvious problems stemmed from print flaws. These cropped up most heavily in the opening credits and cleaned up as the movie progressed, but they remained a distraction through much of the movie. Mostly I saw specks and spots, but some nicks and debris also appeared. I’ve seen dirtier movies, but this one nonetheless suffered from more flaws than I’d expect.

Sharpness was generally good. Some mild softness materialized at times, but the flick usually looked pretty accurate and concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain looked natural, so I didn’t suspect invasive digital noise reduction.

Colors usually seemed nice. The movie featured a natural palette that the Blu-ray displayed with pretty positive vivacity. At times the hues could be a bit flat, but they mostly gave us pleasing tones. Blacks were fairly deep, while shadows seemed acceptable; some low-light elements could seem a little dense, but they remained mostly smooth. Without the print flaws, this would’ve been a solid image, but those blemishes knocked my grade down to “C+”.

In terms of audio, Roadie hits some weird snags. The Blu-ray’s main menu promises DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS-HD MA 2.0 options, but only the latter appears. If you select the 5.1 track, instead you get a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix – which actually appears to be silent! I checked it out occasionally during the movie, and every time I did so, no sound came from my speakers. I tried this on two different players, so it doesn’t appear to be related to my hardware; I suspect the Blu-ray simply botched the audio option.

So that left me with the DTS-HD MA 2.0 option as the only way to go, and it was more than a little odd. Actually, the soundscape demonstrated reasonable spread in terms of effects, as it plopped elements in the right spots and allowed them to mesh together to a passable degree. In particular, trucks – a big factor in a movie about roadies – moved across the speakers in a neat manner, and some other effects brought decent life to the mix.

So what seemed odd? The presentation of the music – another big factor – didn’t work well. Rather than spread across the whole front spectrum, the songs appeared to come mostly from the center and left speakers. This varied, so some music popped up in the right, but those components leaned to the left. This became a distraction, though the situation improved as the movie progressed; the musical balance became more natural as the flick went along, even if it still sometimes oriented toward the left.

Audio quality was erratic as well. Speech appeared natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects occasionally betrayed some light distortion, but they usually sounded accurate enough.

Music once again remained the weak link. The score and songs tended to sound thin and feeble, with some roughness along the way. These musical elements lacked much life or clarity; even at their best, they failed to display any real range or power. Given the movie’s age and budget, I can’t say this was a terrible mix, but it lacked much pizzazz.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2003 DVD? Visuals showed increased clarity, but the Blu-ray also seemed dirtier than the DVD, as it came with more print flaws. The DVD boasted superior audio, as it delivered a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 track that easily topped the Blu-ray’s lackluster 2.0 mix.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get a new audio commentary from screenwriters James “Big Boy” Medlin and Michael Ventura. Both offer separate running, screen-specific chats that get edited into a seamless whole; indeed, it becomes easy to believe they sat together, as the cutting leaves one with that impression.

But it’s not accurate, as they provide their individual thoughts about the project’s origins and development, script/story/character areas, cast and performances, director Alan Rudolph, sets and locations, real-life inspirations, music, and various related issues.

Though it sags a bit as it goes, the track mostly offers a delightful look at Roadie. The writers deliver a ton of fun details and insights as they give us their perspective. In particular, I like Medlin’s reflections on his colorful life and its influence on the story, and we even get some mild criticism of the film’s failings. Despite occasional lulls, I think this track works quite well.

Roadie provides an incoherent piece of comic fluff that never manages to become entertaining. The gags fall flat and the characters don’t rise above one-dimensional status. The Blu-ray gives us acceptable but erratic picture and audio along with an informative audio commentary. I don’t care for Roadie as a film, and due to some problems, I can’t endorse it as a Blu-ray, mostly due to its audio problems. Until/unless these get corrected, fans should stick with the 2003 DVD.

To rate this film, visit the original review of ROADIE

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