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Lame 'Groove': Melodrama overplayed at rave party

Friday, July 07, 2000

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

In the opening moments of "Groove," an enterprising raver played by someone who's been watching far too many Christian Slater movies (Steve Van Wormer) is told that the warehouse he's planning on having his party in later that night is just three blocks away from the nearest police station.


RATING: R for drug use, language and brief sexuality

STARRING: Lola Glaudini, Hamish Linklater

DIRECTOR: Greg Harrison


CRITIC'S CALL: 1 1/2 stars.


Everybody looks a little tense, but then he smiles and says "Remember, no obstacles. Only challenges."

And if that doesn't strike you as corny, then you may be just the audience for "Groove," an embarrassing look inside the rave scene that plays like a soap opera, After School Special and punk-rock episode of "Quincy" all rolled into one.

As the ravers prepare for an evening of dancing and drugging, a woman starts dancing along to the laundry spinning in her dryer at the Laundromat. A couple silently exchanges Brady-worthy smiles while loading up their knapsacks. People named Colin and Harmony talk an older, dorky "My Three Sons" type, David, into going to the party, where he promptly freaks out on his first experience with ... (cue dramatic electronic music) DRUGS!

He's nursed to mental health by Leyla (Lola Glaudini), who appears to be a good 10 years too old and out of it to go to raves.

But then, there doesn't seem to be a person under 21 in sight.

Now that's a rave.

For all its flaws, the film is not without its charms.

A nervous dealer played to eccentric perfection by Ari Gold is selling drugs when someone tells him, "Hey, I know you."

"No, you don't."

"Yeah, you're that TA in Chem 303."

When David (Hamish Linklater) can't remember Leyla's name, she reintroduces herself, to which he says, "That's right. Like that Kinks song."

So we know the writer's got a sense of humor.

If only he'd use it more often and can the melodrama.

Why can't Leyla talk about her European tour of raves without degenerating into heavy-handed student-speak? "I told myself I was seeing the world, but I didn't see the light of day," she sighs, as David, who's a little old for this as well, falls ever more deeply in love.

They're obviously going for that whole Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan kind of romance here, a cliche that can only lead to "Then, across a crowded floor of dancers all hopped up on Ecstasy, their eyes meet."


The biggest problem, though, is director Greg Harrison's constantly shifting perspective.

Is the movie anti-drug or pro-drug?

Is it saying we should all grow up and be responsible? Or is it saying we should all stay young and free forever, dancing to the laundry?

The answer is both.

And while there may be some degree of truth and wisdom there, it's a horrible level of objectivity to impose on a film.

We've seen what balanced writing has done for journalism. I, for one, would hate to see it take all the fun out of filmmaking, too.

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