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  Roadie Mr Fixit
Year: 1980
Director: Alan Rudolph
Stars: Meat Loaf, Kaki Hunter, Art Carney, Gailard Sartain, Don Cornelius, Rhonda Bates, Joe Spano, Richard Marion, Sonny Carl Davis, Deborah Harry, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr, Richard Portnow, Allan Graf, Kurtwood Smith, Hamilton Camp
Genre: Comedy, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Travis W. Redfish lives in Texas with his father Corpus (Art Carney) and his sister Alice Poo (Rhonda Bates), dwelling in a house that is packed with gadgets and contraptions, all designed by Corpus who is something of a technical genius. He prefers to spend his days watching the bank of televisions in his front room, but Travis is more industrious; he has inherited his father's talent with machinery and electronics, though at the moment works as a beer delivery driver. However, one day he is out delivering with his best friend B.B. (Gailard Sartain) and fate puts a broken down camper van in his way...

If you want to think of Roadie as anything, then think of it as the redneck Blues Brothers: they share the same liking for placing music stars in their casts, the same destructive and quirky sense of humour, and the same somewhat random plotting. Yet whereas the Blues Brothers has gone on to be regarded as a cult classic in many quarters, this remains more obscure though even if it is not as successful as its rival as far as entertainment went, it did pick up a following among those who caught it on late night television over the years. For non-Texans, it may take a bit of attuning to its comic rythms and apparently unselfconscious humour.

Meat Loaf managed to carry the film thanks to the decidedly uncomplicated character he was given to play, looking as if the script, which had input from producer Zalman King (before he went into softcore epics) was tailor made to his charms. Travis is meant to be the world's greatest roadie, a calling he discovers when the camper van he stops to help turns out to contain a group of band management and one girl, Lola Bouilliabase (Kaki Hunter), whose heart's desire is to be a groupie. She has her sights set on Alice Cooper to claim her virginity, but he seems a million miles away from the life Lola is living, and besides, Travis has taken an immediate liking to her, telling B.B. that he's never cared as much for any human being in his life.

And that after merely catching a glimpse of her after he smiles at him from the back window of the van - which he fixes and is then persuaded to come along with the team, as after all, with skill like his he should come in very handy. First stop is a bar where Hank Williams Jr is playing, and Travis saves the night when he sets up the equipment in record time, although he then proceeds to disrupt the show by starting a brawl, including the scene where he butts heads with a local big shot, leading to his first instance in the film of what B.B. terms "Brainlock". This involves Travis going into a daze and asking bizarre questions, and if you don't find that amusing then you may as well bail out now, because that's pretty much the level of the humour.

There are a few good laughs in this, but with Alan Rudolph at the helm, not a director best known for his way with raucous, sidesplitting comedy, it all seems to be existing in its own remote little world where a lowly Texan can mix with big rock and country stars and there's nothing strange about it. When Travis powers sound equipment with actual bullshit or a potato, then the film's sense of the ridiculous is plain to see, but if you don't feel initiated into this then it will rarely prompt many giggles. Along the way our hero meets the likes of Roy Orbison, Deborah Harry and the rest of Blondie (they do a rendition of Ring of Fire at an outdoor concert), and eventually Alice Cooper himself, who is persuaded to go out to dinner with Lola in full costume, makeup and, er, snake. Travis and his new object of affection have a rocky road to happiness, but it all ends well, if you can call space aliens landing a welcome development: Travis is not so sure...
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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