Garage Days

dir. Proyas

Opens Fri, July 18

Pioneer Place

From Sixteen Candles to The Breakfast Club, director John Hughes probably offered more hope, empathy, and understanding than a combined army of high school guidance counselors. But sometime around 1987 Hughes abandoned the generation he had led through their bumpy adolescence and, with Uncle Buck and his Home Alone trilogy, veered off into family comedies. In doing so, he left many of us standing at the curb.

Garage Days doesn't continue with the quite the same aplomb or cleverness, but it does pick up the ball Hughes dropped more than a decade ago and run with it for a little bit. Instead of gawky teenagers stumbling into early adulthood, Garage Days involves young adults evolving into grown-ups. Freddy (Kick Gurry) is a twenty-something Australian desperately trying to pull his ragtag rock 'n' roll band into stardom. As the band bum rushes through their first gig and demo tape, they are pulled apart by real-life, grown-up issues (like pregnancy, mortgages, and mental illness) and tough choices like whether friendship or fame is more important.

It's a hokey premise, but it works because Garage Days mimics what Hughes did best: Allowing the characters to be the punch line without really humiliating them. Instead of slick, talented characters that populate too many current movies, the bandmates are individually clumsy, uncertain and, above all, awkwardly earnest.

Like The Breakfast Club, each character is weighed down with a problem or some sort of neurosis: The guitarist is suicidal; one of the girlfriends is pregnant; and the drummer knocks over pharmacies to feed his addiction for prescription drugs. But instead of overwhelming the film, these nagging issues serve as a cartoonish undertow; one that only tugs lightly at the characters' pant legs. Ultimately Garage Days is a reminder that, yes, life is challenging and has its downers--but it's much easier if you see the humor in it even when you're the punch line.