Review: Punk rock and theater collide in ‘Broadway Idiot’

A scene from "Broadway Idiot."

A fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining if hardly trenchant show biz documentary, “Broadway Idiot” traces how Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning concept album/rock opera “American Idiot” was turned into a “Rent"-like stage musical and brought to the Great White Way with seemingly little discord or drama.

If there was, in fact, any conflict or tension between the 2010 musical’s director Michael Mayer and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong (they co-wrote the show’s book) — much less any issues with or among the cast, crew or producers (the latter go oddly unseen here) — one would never know it from this film. “Broadway” director Doug Hamilton focuses mainly on the pleasure of the creative/collaborative process, the music’s infectious energy and the cast’s exuberant rehearsal and performance process. Once it’s clear that’s just the kind of puffy documentary this is, viewers can simply sit back and, as they say, enjoy the show.

Though we learn little personally about Mayer, musical supervisor Tom Kitt or the play’s performers (including dynamic lead John Gallagher Jr., now on TV’s “The Newsroom”), the film proves an enlightening profile of punk rock icon Armstrong, who went from casual interest in the stage adaptation of “Idiot” to becoming a full-fledged team player (he even occasionally appeared in the cast as drug dealer St. Jimmy). Armstrong’s spirited, humble and generous presence is heartening and refreshing.

Ultimately, this buoyant picture serves its ostensible purpose: It makes you want to run out and catch a production of “American Idiot.” Or at least crank up the album.



“Broadway Idiot”

MPAA Rating: R for some language

Running time: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Playing: At Laemmle’s Royal, West Los Angeles; Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also available on VOD.