To say this is an odd film does it a disservice. Jeffrey St. Jules’ sci-fi musical has a lot going for it on a visual scale, but the remainder of its content is up for debate. There’s some lovely direction, fine performances, and an idiosyncratic atmosphere that keeps it entertaining, but the story itself feels half-realised and a little underwhelming.
Bang Bang Baby follows 1960s’ small-town girl Stepphy’s dreams of becoming a singing sensation. That dream comes achingly close to reality when she’s accepted into a talent competition, but her ill father forbids her to go. Her shattered dreams are then pieced back together when singing heartthrob Stepphy’s idol Bobby Shore turns up and the pair quickly fall in love. There’s just one snag – the whole town becomes plagued with a weird purple mist, turning the residents into mutants.
Bang Bang Baby employs an unusual mixture of styles and tones that work in making the film quite the original feature, but you may struggle to comprehend the logic behind it. Then again, Bang Bang Baby has more than enough charm to compensate for any lack of logic. It has more in common with The League of Gentlemen than Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, and is all the better for it. St. Jules creates an amusing pastiche of 1960s’ teenage romance that’s emphasised by the film’s star duo, Jane Levy as Stepphy and Justin Chatwin as Bobby. Neither of them deliver Oscar-winning performances necessarily, but there’s a well-slurred manner to Chatwin’s idiotic rocker, and Levy gives a performance that belittles her 20-something age in its maturity. She’s the tightly-wound knot in this delightfully mad jumble of a film that has strands waving about in all directions.
In lesser hands, the pacing, atmosphere, and overall feel of the film might come off as a squalid shambles, but St. Jules knows how to fuel Bang Bang Baby with a powerful sense of individuality. In this age of never-ending cinematic universes, this film can perhaps be taken as a violent and effective tonic to today’s movie trends.
Bang Bang Baby isn’t for the masses, and it’s proud in being such a film. The rough, trashy nature to the pacing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s understandable if at first you’re wondering where exactly this film is going, as any sort of sci-fi hokum doesn’t kick in until almost thirty minutes into the film. However, its utter and complete weirdness never lets up, and the film ultimately remains a refreshingly odd cluster of genres. If Troma did a 12-rated musical, it might look something like Bang Bang Baby.
BANG BANG BABY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JEFFREY ST. JULES / STARRING: JUSTIN CHATWIN, JANE LEVY, CHLOE ROSE, PETER STORMARE / RELEASE DATE: TBC