Let’s face it: there’s something innately absurd about dedicating your life to sex, drugs and rock & roll. What could be sillier than making a living by banging on a guitar and howling incoherently about partying and your love of various parts of the female anatomy? Hollywood has naturally picked up on this by making a number of comedies that perfectly skewer the music world. To celebrate the guys from Blue Jean Committee getting the “Behind the Music” treatment on the Documentary Now! season finale, check out our picks for a solid daylong festival of rock band comedies.
When the slacker idiots in LA metal band The Lone Rangers hatch a plan to get their demo tape played over the radio, the situation quickly devolves into a farcical hostage situation in this very ’90s comedy. Airheads also sees the first appearance of the “Evil Adult Contemporary Music” trope, as the station is about to switch format away from headbanging metal to easy listening for baby boomers.
9. Detroit Rock City
This teen comedy about a KISS cover band is set in 1978, aka the heyday of the face-painted rockers. The result is American Pie meets Dazed and Confused with a Ron Jeremy cameo.
8. The Rocker
Getting kicked out of a band is the kind of thing that can scar you for life. (Just ask Pete Best.) In The Rocker, Rainn Wilson plays an ousted drummer from a world famous heavy metal band who joins his teenage nephew to get back on stage, with hilarious results.
The connection between heavy metal and the underworld is a strong one, something the splatter comedy Deathgasm makes very explicit. When a troubled teen accidentally summons a demon with cursed sheet music, the rockers of Deathgasm must muster all the power that brutal grindcore can deliver to send it back to Hell.
6. School of Rock
Sure they aren’t a professional rock band, but the kids in this classic Jack Black comedy sure can shred. The band has lived on through reunion concerts, an upcoming musical and talk of a sequel.
5. The Rutles: All You Need is Cash
The Beatles were rife for parody, and this pre-fab four created by Monty Python member Eric Idle skewered John, Paul, Ringo and George’s late ’60s excess. The Rutles were a note-perfect parody of Sgt. Pepper’s era Beatles, and the flick takes a mockumentary look at their rise and fall. A co-production from Idle and Saturday Night Live‘s Lorne Michaels, The Rutles features a “Who’s Who” of comedy and music cameos, including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Paul Simon and Mick Jagger.
4. Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny
Tenacious D’s big screen outing follows the duo as they steal a magical guitar pick made from Satan’s tooth to grant them rock stardom. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned and it ends with a Battle of the Bands involving the Dark Lord himself.
3. Still Crazy
Bill Nighy and Billy Connolly are among the cast of this riotous comedy about a glam rock band who had a brutal public meltdown in the ’70s and are now making a go of it 20 years later.
2. Get Him to the Greek
Russell Brand’s decadent rocker Aldous Snow got promoted from Forgetting Sarah Marshall supporting player to the star of this hilarious look at the music scene. Everything from self-important charity ballads to insane record execs are brilliantly spoofed by writer/director Nicholas Stoller.
1. This Is Spinal Tap
Could there really be any other contender for the top flick on this list? Rob Reiner’s brilliant 1984 mockumentary chronicled the rise and fall of the greatest heavy metal band of all time. A staggering amount of footage was lensed with the main actors improvising and riffing off each other (no pun intended) and Reiner picked the best bits to make up the final cut. The film is still infinitely quotable and added “it goes to 11” to the pop culture lexicon.