Thursday, October 22, 2009

They're Still Beautiful... Oh SO Beautiful...

I was one of the lucky folks who won passes to the theater screening of the Bon Jovi documentary "When We Were Beautiful." You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got THAT e-mail a couple days ago! I never win ANYTHING. But if I am going to win only one contest, ever, well, this one will do. At least for now. So, tonight was the screening of the Doc. Both of my local SheCop Jovi GalPals happened to be out of town for work this week, but they just couldn't stand the thought of me attending alone. So one of them changed her return flight, which would have been tomorrow, to today so she could "keep me from being lonely" (AKA glom on to my free second pass). She came straight from the airport to the lovely Mazza Gallerie Mall in northwest Washington, DC, in just enough time to enjoy a pre-Doc celebratory glass of wine. Then in we went, along with a whole buncha other Jovi Peeps. Oh. My. Freakin'. God. It was everything I hoped it would be. And more. I love documentaries. I will watch a documentary on just about anything. History of toilet paper? Check. Soviet Space Program? Yep. ANYTHING by Ken Burns? Abso-freakin'-lutely. But of course I love Rock-Docs most of all. In fact, I just recently watched "Anvil - The Story of Anvil," which I thought was brilliant. So, knowing I liked the genre, my question going in was: "Is this really gonna be the honest, open, warts-and-all behind the scenes look at what it's really like to be part of the Jovi world? Seriously?" Well, IMO, it is. The doc opens with scene of Jon getting limbered up in prep for playing MSG (side note -- how do I get that job? GAH!) and talking about the fact that it's almost 25 years ago to the week that he first played The Garden. And off we go from there. I'm not gonna give you a play-by-play and ruin the fun for those of you who haven't seen it yet. But I will say that I found it to be well-balanced, with a good mix of interviews with each of the band members (no Huey, though), candid moments with Jon and the Band, concert footage, and interviews with others such as Obie O'Brien and Kid Rock. I really got a sense of the highs and lows the Guys go through on the road, and how their own personal lives help ground them and sometimes push them close to the edge. There is some pretty raw emotion, some candid opinion-sharing, and even a little smug arrogance *gasp* from you-know-who. But you definitely see the love and devotion these men have for each other. And that's the real story, the real heart of this film and this band. Just a few of my favorite moments: * The pre-show huddle in Abu Dhabi, when Jon tells the guys what to do if things go wrong (it's funny) * Jon talking about going from on-stage in front of thousands of screaming maniacs to the silence of his hotel room, and not even being able to call anybody and share how excited he is that the Soul just beat Dallas -- Again! * Tico talking very frankly about dealing with his anger about his childhood and his drinking *Jon going off about his frustration with lawyers and promoters and Ticketmaster and MLB and the Mayor of NYC and pretty much EVERYBODY in trying to get the Central Park concert to go. (I could TOTALLY identify with his reaction here, lol!) * David commenting that maybe someday Jon will make the band a real democracy... and then somebody better check the dosage on his Prozac * Some very candid and direct conversation by all the guys about what was going on behind the scenes when the band almost split up in the early 1990s.... and just how close they really were. * A really sweet & funny scene of Jon meeting an elderly lady whose home was rebuilt as part of the Detroit Soul Foundation project. * Richie talking about Ava coming to NYC, not to see him play in an historic event (Central Park), but for another reason entirely (I won't spoil it for you, but it's really funny, and Ava's gonna kill him!) * The gorgeous soundcheck performance of "Diamond Ring" * Richie performing IBTFY * Jon performing *gulp* "Hallelujah"--the entire song, with some dialogue overlaid. Just stunning. * The final scene, which damned near turned me into a Jonny Girl. You get to see the REAL Jon, probably more so than anywhere else in the doc. It's just beautiful. Judging from the audience reaction, pretty much everybody had the same thoughts as I did as I watched. There were lots of chuckles, some outright laughs, and quite a few sighs and growls (especially when there was a sweaty lead singer involved); singing along to the concert scenes, and complete breathless silence during some of the more painful parts (such as Richie talking very candidly about his problems). Granted, there was some pretty significant bias in this audience, but it really did seem to touch everybody on some level. My only complaint? It's not 12 hours long. Can't wait to watch it again, and again, and again.


  1. Holy wow LOL.
    Nice review Cate, shit I can't wait to SEE this! Gah! Esp the end part that you've teased us with! ;)

    I loved some of the highlights, and I love that they were candid, sounds like David was especially candid in a few places... excellent. I wanted that, I don't want a polished let's say what they want to hear doco, I want the truth.. and it sounds like this was introspective.

    Glad you had fun, and I SO can't wait to see this!

  2. Thanks for the review except it makes me want to see it so badly that I hurt! (or maybe it's just the flu shot in my arm . . . nope it's my heart!)Great that you got to go and had a friend to share it with.


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