It is the rare film that succeeds in creating a fictional band that taps into our primordial need to bop our heads and for a brief moment in the theater, live out our teenage rock n’ roll dreams of groupie chasing, hotel room trashing and agent firing. In honor of those Wyld Stallyns Bill & Ted kicking out the jams during IFC’s Rotten Fridays, check out some fictional bands who rock hard enough to earn being on a list that — like Spinal Tap once said — goes to 11.
11. The Lone Rangers, Airheads
The former high school burnouts/metal heads/wannabe rock stars who take over the radio station in Airheads definitely have the proper reverence for the metal god that was Motorhead frontman Lemmy. In fact, Lemmy actually has a hilarious cameo as part of the crowd of metal fans waiting to see the Lone Rangers play. Brendan Fraser had more than his share of goofy performances in the ’90s, but he looked the part as the Lone Rangers frontman, which also consists of Steve Buscemi on bass and Adam Sandler on drums. You have to like any movie that casts Joe Mantegna as a Dr. Johnny Fever-type DJ who delivers the prophetic line about rock that, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”
10. Steel Dragon, Rock Star
Based on the true story of Tim “Ripper” Owens, a singer in a Judas Priest tribute band who went on to replace Priest frontman Rob Halford, Rock Star tells the epic tale of a fan of fictional ’80s metal band Steel Dragon who gets a shot at playing with his idols. In a memorable scene, Mark Walhberg’s Chris Cole auditions for the Steel Dragon members, including founder and guitarist Kirk Cuddy (Dominic West). Cole rocks out the Steel Dragon tune “We All Die Young,” a song written and performed by real life metal band Steelheart.
9. Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow, Get Him to The Greek
Despite being fictional, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is the quintessential British rocker. He’s got loads of charisma, and an impulsive personality mixed with an inclination for heroin, awkward threesomes and putting his record company rep (Jonah Hill) in uncomfortable positions (like sitting in an airplane with heroin stuffed up a body cavity). Brand was the perfect choice to make Aldous Snow a pompous rock star who performs songs like “Bangers, Beans & Mash,” “The Clap” and of course “Furry Walls.” Brand stole all his scenes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and this spinoff film tells Snow’s rock star story as Jonah Hill’s Aaron Green has to get him to The Greek theater to perform. In the end, both Aldous and Aaron learn the important life lesson that “when the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry walls.”
8. Citizen Dick, Singles
Singles didn’t just try to reflect the Seattle grunge rock scene of the ’90s — it was at the forefront of a new rock explosion that was taking hold with music fans ready to embrace bands that rocked without hair spray. Several of the biggest Seattle bands of the time were not only on the soundtrack but appeared in the movie, including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. The plot of Singles revolves around a group of Seattle twentysomethings experiencing life and love in flannel shirts, all while being lucky enough to go out to shows in a city where Alice in Chains just happens to be playing their local bar. Sure, Citizen Dick frontman Cliff Poncier (Matt Dillon) might have been too wrapped up in his music to say “Bless You” when his girlfriend Janet (Bridget Fonda) sneezed, and he might have earned less stellar reviews than his bandmates (including drummer Eddie Vedder), but he did lead the group to huge acclaim in Belgium.
7. Cassandra and Crucial Taunt, Wayne’s World
“And her name was Cassandra,” sang the smitten Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers). There’s good reason that Wayne heard the song “Dream Weaver” the moment he saw Tia Carrere bring out her inner Joan Jett onstage as Cassandra Wong. She was not only a “fox” but she wailed as the lead singer and guitarist for Crucial Taunt. Sure, Crucial Taunt may not have the bizarre historical knowledge of Milwaukee that Alice Cooper displayed but they certainly rock harder than The Jolly Green Giants and “The Sh—y Beatles.” There may be have been two Darren Stevenes on the show Bewitched but there was only one Cassandra to rock Wayne’s world.
6. Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
The Wyld Stallyns are Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan and if you read this in the year 2668, you would totally know both dudes since the music that Bill and Ted created became the foundation for a world that lives in peace and harmony. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the duo, played by Alex Winter and someone named Keanu Reeves, travel in a phone booth time machine to retrieve historical figures (and some princess babes) who they bring back to San Dimas to help them with their rockin’ history presentation. By the end of the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the dimwitted boys can finally play their instruments, and are joined by Death, Rufus (George Carlin), some aliens and their robot doppelgangers for an epic concert performance.
5. School of Rock, School of Rock band
The kids are more than alright in the musical comedy School of Rock — in fact, it’s their teacher who’s a mess. Jack Black is at his animated best as Dewey Finn, a failing rocker who pretends to be his roommate in order to take a substitute teaching job. Under the initially misguided tutelage of Black’s substitute teacher, the class of private school fourth graders come together to form a kickass rock band that embraces breaking the rules and learns to “get mad at the man.” They also piss off their uptight principal, played hilariously by Joan Cusack, who lets her inner Stevie Nicks loose in a classic scene. Of course the School of Rock band wins over the crowd at the Battle of the Bands, with an amazing lead guitarist, a tight group of backup singers and a sufficiently snarky manager.
4. Sex Bob-omb, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
“We are Sex Bob-omb. 1,2,3,4!” Sure Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) plays a mean bass and is dorky cool (for a Canadian) and Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) is the front man with “the talent,” but even Sex Bob-Omb’s two hardcore fans know that the ferociously angry drumming of Kim Pine (Alison Pill) is what gives the band its punk/garage rock edge. Most of their shows are interrupted by fights, except it’s not the music that instigates the aggression. As Scott shows off his video game martial arts skills to battle Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seven evil exes, the band continues to play hard and fast on songs that “make you think about death and get sad and stuff.”
3. Stillwater, Almost Famous
Stillwater runs deep and so does director Cameron Crowe’s love for music. Almost Famous is Crowe’s love letter to his experience as a young rock journalist in the 1970s. Watching the film through the eyes of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) will make anyone wish they could have toured with the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band. The actors portraying the fictional ’70s hard rock band Stillwater don’t just look the part — Crowe made sure they could play together as a band before filming. 1970s guitar superstar Peter Frampton served as a technical consultant and Crowe’s wife at the time, Nancy Wilson of Heart, co-wrote some of Stillwater’s songs. “Fever Dog” has an authentic classic rock sound and all the songs in the movie will take you back to a time of bellbottoms, vinyl records and groupies loving a band so much “it hurts.”
2. Tenacious D, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny
The comedy/guitar rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass get their feature film debut in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny as their epic story is told in the form of a rock opera with songs that will make you bang your head and laugh your ass off. JB and KG have always paid homage to the gods of metal in their songs and sketches and their love of all things thrash is in full display in the song that tells the origin of KG’s path to rock greatness. Not only does Meatloaf play JB’s Bible-thumping father but legendary Black Sabbath front man Ronnie James Dio emerges from a poster on the wall to send him on his journey to Hollywood. JB and KG team up to form “The D” and embark on their quest to pay the rent and defeat the Devil himself (Dave Grohl) in the rock-off of all rock-offs. (Catch Tenacious D at the 2016 Festival Supreme on October 29th in Los Angeles.)
1. Spinal Tap, This is Spinal Tap
If there was a heavy metal Mt. Rushmore, Spinal Tap would clearly be on it. (Or at the very least, they would have a tiny 18-inch version of it next to the real thing.) David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) need no introduction to hardcore rock and comedy fans. The groundbreaking mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap follows the fictional veteran rockers as they promote a new tour, discuss amps that “go to 11” and get lost inside of a concert venue. Spinal Tap’s performances are so loud that their drummers tend to explode although it may not be related to drumming, as “dozens of people combust each year. It’s just not that widely reported.”
Catch Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey this Friday at 8P on IFC’s Rotten Fridays!