Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements

The Replacements

MVD Visual, 2011

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/03/2012

Yeah, I'm one of those people from Minneapolis who will tell anyone willing to listen that The Replacements will always be the best and most outrageous rock 'n' roll band ever. I mean, how many other bands past or present would shave their eyebrows off before interviews and make an MTV video of a speaker for three minutes during their first stab at mainstream success? Of course I'm biased – Minneapolis culture is all over The Mats’ songs, but as their popularity increases decades after their demise and household names are citing them as influences, it's hard to deny the legacy of what people often called “The Best Worst Band.”

I have to admit, though, I let out a groan upon seeing the cover displayed as “The Potentially True Story Of The Last Best Band.” Having spent my teenage years attending basement and small venue shows surrounded by those older than myself who had an intimate knowledge of The Replacements and their antics, I had already heard most of the wild stories about the band. What I wanted to hear was what was fact and what was fiction. I had to wonder how much of this was going to be hearsay.

Gorman Bechard, the director, purposely included no interviews with any of band members. There is also no live footage, nor is there any of their music. There are a few photos of standard press kits from their heyday and some old flyers from the early '80s, but the closest you'll get to the actual band are interviews with their former sound guys and producers. While one might think that Bechard had no choice in going this route because none of the band members would be willing to cooperate; but he actually opted to make a film sans the band and their music, something that is rarely, if ever, tackled when it comes to rock documentaries. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Essentially, this is over two hours of friends of the band and fans talking about The Replacements. From humorous stories to accounts of their ill-fated, drunken shows to people who never stood within a city block from The Mats but just admired their brash music and attitudes. Are these interviews compelling enough to keep you entertained for two hours? Sometimes, yes. Lori Barbero (Babes In Toyland) and Mark Trehus (Minneapolis record label and store owner) both have interesting things to say about their personal interactions with the band. Some of the celebrities’ appearances contribute worthwhile pieces as well, with the Goo Goo Dolls even admitting that they ripped off The Replacements on their early work. Actors like George Wendt and Dave Foley might sound out of place being included here, but their praise is a nice addition to the mostly music industry types that dominate the interviews.

Where things start to get questionable is some of the fan interviews that drag on much too long. Bechard admits in the bonus material that this was something he questioned when piecing this together, and while those fans are certainly very enamored and what they are saying is sincere, when one fan starts discussing how he used to talk to Westerberg as his imaginary friend while growing up I couldn't help but think the interview had out-welcomed its stay. On a couple of other occasions, I caught myself tempted to fast forward when redundancy started to settle in.

For the diehard fan, there is a lot of great information revealed from those who knew the band best, and that alone seems worth the price of admission. For those unfamiliar with The Replacements, you're better off picking up some music first or the chronological discussing of the albums and songs will be lost on you. While it definitely seemed like the odds were against him making this film worthwhile without the band or music included, it has plenty of great storytelling despite some longwinded moments. I'd suggest watching it in 30 minute increments and with some of The Mats CDs ready to play lightly in the background, just in case...

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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