The biggest problem I can find with Alex Proyas’ 2002 effort, “Garage Days”, is that it’s completely superfluous and, perhaps worst of all (at least according to all aspiring filmmakers out there who would sell a kidney just to have a decent budget to make their movie) wasteful. When you’re doing a movie about a fictional garage band trying to make it in the music world, there’s absolutely no reason for costly special effects such as bullet-time and CGI raindrops.
My guess is that Proyas realized early on that his movie was dull, that its straightforward narrative was too movie-of-the-week-ish, and so he felt the need to spice up every single frame of “Garage Days” with elaborate camera setups, effects, and camera tricks. The point is, none of it is necessary. “Garage Days” is the type of film that won’t be made by how much special effects you throw at it. “Garage” is such a simple film that elaborate camera tricks just cheapen it and proves you have no faith in the material.
It’s hard to imagine that “Garage Days” was done by the same man who gave us the viscerally brilliant “The Crow” and the shamefully under appreciated “Dark City”. But as visuals go, I suppose Proyas isn’t shedding his skin here, because that’s exactly the problem with “Garage Days” — it’s visuals overwhelms its minor story. It’s like a billionaire trying to polish up a beat-up station wagon with a new coat of paint, state-of-the-art alarms, and tinted windows. There’s just no point. And since Proyas co-wrote the screenplay, it’s unfathomable that he didn’t immediately realize that “less is more” is the right way to go.
“Garage Days” plays out as mostly a comedy, with sprinkles of surprising drama thrown in to keep the movie offbeat. There’s a measure of unpredictability about the film, especially in light of a couple of plot points that pops up along the way, including the movie’s less-than-Cinderella ending. Sometimes the dramatics overshadow the film and gives it something of a schizophrenic personality. I think the screenwriters wanted a movie that was part comedy and part drama, but was not completely successful in either.
The most endearing character is Kick Gurry’s Freddy, an aspiring rock star who thinks he’s about to hit the big time when he catches superstar agent Shad Kern (Marton Csokas) in a compromising position. The rest of the cast doesn’t quite fare so well. Sure, they all have individual personalities, and they’re all quirky as hell. One even has some serious mental problems (one of those dramatic and unpredictable plot points I was talking about earlier), while another character gets pregnant, which puts a cramp on her burgeoning romance with Freddy, who is not the baby’s father.
As mentioned, “Garage Days” is infused with every camera trick and special effects that money can buy. Sometimes, especially in the first half, the special effects really take away from the movie at hand. When a character is walking down a street lost in thought, instead of just shooting the character walking down the street we get a world of CGI-enhanced images, freeze frames, slow motion, and God knows what else. It’s all a bit too much and completely unnecessary.
To prove that effects don’t help a movie like this, the film’s last 30 minutes is almost completely devoid of effects. And you know what? It was the most engaging part of the whole movie.
Alex Proyas (director) / Dave Warner, Alex Proyas, Michael Udesky (screenplay)
CAST: Kick Gurry …. Freddy
Maya Stange …. Kate
Pia Miranda …. Tanya
Russell Dykstra …. Bruno
Brett Stiller …. Joe