"The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll" — the title refers to the so-called 27 Club of musicians — arrives with eerie timing, so soon after the death of troubled vocalist Amy Winehouse. But that's not to say it's resonant or believable.
With drugs, sex and betrayal, the road-trip drama — essentially the story of a superstar and the hometown bandmate he left behind — gathers up every rock-saga requisite, and throws in Route 66 for good mythologizing measure. Some grace notes and riffs ring true, but mainly it plays like a familiar tune on a broken record.
Kevin Zegers and Jason Ritter try to elevate their roles from caricatures. Zegers is convincingly charismatic as bad-boy frontman Spyder, whose first album no character can mention without noting that it was the biggest rock debut in history. Ritter plays earnest guitarist Eric, whose ripped-off songs filled the legendary mega-seller. The film centers on a flashback to the duo's ill-fated 1991 reunion, with a cockamamie present-day framing device involving a journalist (Lukas Haas).
At stake are Spyder's conscience and the truth about an unreleased album.
Director Scott Rosenbaum, who clearly has a passion for roots rock, showcases a group of blues masters, Pinetop Perkins among them, in a key scene at a roadhouse (with a cameo by the ever-beautiful Ruby Dee). But neither the nods to musical greatness nor the '70s-cred presence of Peter Fonda dispels the hokeyness of the story.
Love of rock 'n' roll won't always set you free.
"The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll." MPAA rating: R for language throughout, drug use, some sexual content and nudity. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.