Owen Gleiberman
August 13, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Detroit Rock City

Current Status
In Season
Edward Furlong

We gave it a D

I grew up in Michigan in the ’70s, and so I was all primed to see Detroit Rock City. It’s a rowdy B-movie homage to the tongue-waggling, moon-booted, power-chord-wielding band Kiss. Mostly, it’s about the crazed devotion they inspired. The movie, I’m afraid, isn’t going to inspire much devotion. That’s because… it sucks. Here are 5 reasons why:

1 Set in 1978, it’s an utterly fake nostalgia piece — stupid and pandering, a generic bad-boy teen flick that feels less like a loving look at the late ’70s than an extremely bad movie from the late ’70s. Think ”FM” crossed with ”Thank God It’s Friday!”

2 The picture is raucous and meandering. Hawk (Edward Furlong), a Cleveland high schooler, and his three burnout pals land tickets to a Kiss show, lose the tickets (twice), then spend the rest of the film roaming the streets of Detroit, where they come up with assorted hapless schemes to get into the concert.

3 The director, Adam Rifkin, isn’t happy unless each scene features a wide-angle close-up of someone getting punched, bonked in the head, or rubbed against a pizza-smeared windshield.

4 Finally, we arrive at the big Kiss concert, where we get to see all of one number (yes, the film’s title track). Why is the sequence shot and edited in such a primitive MTV frenzy? My guess is that it’s so we can’t tell what a tough time Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons (one of the film’s producers), and the others are having strutting their middle-aged stuff in those skintight leather costumes.

5 In the end, ”Detroit Rock City” inspires only one reaction. It makes you want to say to everyone associated with it: Kiss off.

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