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May 2, 2005

Hey Mr. DJ, What Have You Done

From: Daily Californian - Berkeley,CA,USA - May 2, 2005

Mockumentary Chronicling Deaf Disc Jockey Misfires

BY Abraham Kim
Monday, May 2, 2005

If some dee-jay filmmakers one day decided to cast a degenerate Beethoven as lead actor in a part-mockumentary, part-biopic which combines elements of "Requiem for a Dream" with "This is Spinal Tap," the result would be the film "It's All Gone Pete Tong." The wacky title is Cockney slang for the expression "It's all gone wrong," using the name of a real-life DJ.

The film mostly intersperses high-strung drama with testimonials from famous DJs, such as Paul Van Dyk and Sarah Main. Frankie Wilde is a renowned DJ who is addicted to the adulation given him by crowds of the party-crazy Spanish island of Ibiza. In the first half of the film, the debauchery of an icon is displayed, as Wilde snorts ungodly amounts of cocaine, downs whiskey as if it were water, and shags as if there were no tomorrow.

As long as he produces hits, he lives the high life and his manager Max and unfaithful wife put up with him. Then the loud music and drugs take their toll, and Wilde goes stone deaf. Unable to hear, his life quickly falls apart as his family and friends desert him, and he soon gets lost in his cocaine addiction, suffering a major breakdown a la Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Aviator." Finally, he gets his act together, learns how to read lips from a Spanish woman while romancing her, and executes an incredible comeback to the DJ world by "feeling" the beats with his feet and visualizing sound waves instead of hearing the music.

The charismatic British comedian Paul Kaye gives a great lead performance as Wilde. He is able to convey a wide range of emotion, pain, and confusion through his gleaming eyes, and he throws himself into the role with astonishing force, superbly acting out the struggles and madness of a tormented DJ.

The film also succeeds occasionally through its sense of humor. One of the film's more hilarious yet unnerving sequences takes place when a suicidal Frankie attaches firecrackers to his head and lights the fuse. When he suddenly decides that he doesn't want to kill himself, he tries to defuse the spark and blindly jumps into the pool only to discover that it's covered with the blue tarp.

While the film is quite funny in some places, it suffers from many flaws. The humor dries out quickly and the film awkwardly switches gears from a non-stop party flick to a sentimental tale of lip-reading and romance. Wilde's addiction is personified by a pink-apron-wearing badger that appears whenever Wilde wants to give up snorting coke, and the effect is more preposterous than humorous.

A lot of the dialogue throughout is dry and utterly lame. "This is like all the terrors and horrors of the world," utters a rocker with overbearing drama when Wilde tells him that he's deaf and shows him his hearing aid. Although the film, as a mockumentary, aims to satirize club culture, the lame lines from Jack Stoddart, a British music executive who cancels Frankie's recording contract, are just too much to handle. "The field of music has been dominated by people who can hear," states Stoddart—the film overdoes the ridiculous executive image to the point where it will leave audiences groaning.

In addition, Wilde's manager Max initially invigorates the film, but his performance gradually grows tiresome as he is reduced to nothing more than a perspiring, fast-talking paranoid. Furthermore, though the film captures the decadence and energy of the club scene adequately, the constant scenes of Wilde stretching his arms out to the crowds in clubs in recognition of his god-like status begin to grow old as well.

To make matters even more lackluster, the film concludes in a tacky, contrived manner that is total letdown to the film's stimulating spirit. Overall, there isn't much depth in the film, and the potentially inspirational story of Frankie Wilde is marred by the film's inconsistent tone, poor dialogue, and inane caricatures of characters. As a result, audiences will more than likely shake their heads in disapproval rather than bob them to the incredibly loud techno beats that pulsate throughout the film.

(c) 2003 The Daily Californian