Sundance 2011: 'Fight for Your Right Revisited' brings the Beastie revolution
The Sundance Film Festival’s "Short Program I" had no shortage of visceral kidney punches and visual shockers for the jam-packed audience at the Library Theater in Park City, Utah, on Thursday night.
Director Ariel Kleiman’s “Deeper Than Yesterday” provoked deep unease depicting the rage that lurks beneath man’s civility –- or at least the simmering hostility manifest in pasty-faced mariners deep beneath the ocean’s surface in a Russian submarine. “The Terrys” (directed by Tim Heidecker and Eric Warheim) presents an extreme slice of White Trash excess (“ice” gets smoked, Zubaz pants are worn, a surprise pregnancy results in a not-quite normal baby). And “The External World” (directed by David O’Reilly) shows us a video game universe where Japanimation characters find themselves in disquieting –- but nonetheless hilarious -- predicaments that play up an almost shockingly complete list of comedic taboos: pedophilia, genocide, spontaneous combustion and gratuitous pooping.
But the short movie that a large contingent of the opening night showing had come specifically to see was “Fight for Your Right Revisited,” directed by an individual named Adam Yauch. That would be the guy better known as MCA from the seminal hip-hop trio the Beastie Boys.
Yauch’s aliases are myriad. He sometimes goes by an alter ego named Nathaniel Hornblower to direct short films and movies such as “Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot” and “Awesome I … Shot That.” And at the Indie movie distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, he goes by the title chief executive.
Yauch directed the 20-minute movie as a kind of bizarro companion piece to the Beasties’ smash 1986 frat boy anthem “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” The film follows actors impersonating the group in period-perfect costumes in the denouement to the wild party (where pies are thrown, Spanish Fly is dumped in punch and a TV is famously sledge-hammered) depicted in the video.
But not just any actors. Seth Rogen portrays the Beasties’ Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Elijah Wood embodies Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and a trash-talking Danny McBride channels '80s-era Yauch via four-day growth of beard and sleazy leather jacket.
The trio rob a bodega, spray beer all over passersby on a New York-esque (read: Hollywood movie studio backlot) street and generally raise havoc wherever they go, terrorizing a Who’s Who of movie bigshots in the process: Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Will Arnett among them -- but also Kirsten Dunst, Rashida Jones and Orlando Bloom (wearing a vintage Def Jam jacket in homage to the group's former record label). But the Beastie party mayhem doesn’t stop there. The “Beasties” are picked up by “metal chicks” portrayed by Chloe Sevigny and Maya Rudolph with whom they ingest whippets and drop liquid acid.
The whole, ahem, brouhaha culminates with a confrontation with none other than the “Beastie Boys from 25 years in the future”: Will Ferrell (as Ad-Rock), John C. Reilly (as Mike D) and a petulant Jack Black as MCA. A wild break dance contest turns into an actual pissing contest that is broken up by a trio of New York cops –- the real Beastie Boys.
The thing is so meta-narrative, it’s not even funny -- or it's especially funny, depending how you look at it. But the film represents a particularly surprising turn for Yauch, who long ago repudiated his party-hearty past to become a somewhat humorless adherent to Tibetan Buddhism.
As well, the short provides a primer for the forthcoming Beastie Boys album “Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1,” which was originally slated for release in 2009 but was shelved when Yauch was diagnosed with a tumor in his parotid gland. (Earlier this month, the rapper was deemed to be cancer free.) New songs “Make Some Noise,” “Say It” and a remix of “Too Many Rappers” (featuring Queens MC Nas) can be heard beneath the antic mayhem on-screen.
Question is, what next? The thing's not online yet. Does Yauch/Oscilloscope put it out on Vevo? As a stand alone DVD? Judging by the blogosphere interest surrounding the release of the above photo of Rogen, Wood and McBride in Beastie drag, there is a healthy interest in this project from the group's core constituency: sneakerheads and hipsters, backpack hip-hop afficionados and "Dad-rap" fans (like your humble correspondent).
-- Chris Lee
Photo of Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride as the Beastie Boys courtesty of beastieboys.com