Groove Review

According to Groove, the economics of throwing a rave: Charge $2 a head for some 200 people to inhabit an abandoned warehouse for one night. Provide free food, water, massages, and of course, music from a parade of 5 or 6 DJs. Sounds like a losing proposition to me.

In fact, the last time I went to a rave (in 1991, when the scene was already on its way out), it cost $8. Today, it's like $20. Groove's $2 rave sounds a little phony, a little dated.

While Groove was the talk of Sundance (and for an entire year the talk of San Francisco -- where it was shot and where I live), it seems hopelessly unable to live up to its hype, a la The Blair Witch Project. Counting conservatively, it's the fourth movie set in the rave scene to hit theaters in the last year. And by my account, it does the least with the throbbing rave lifestyle of all of them.

Why? Because Groove, while ostensibly about "one night in the San Francisco rave scene" is really about one night in the lives of a bunch of Bay Area twentysomethings. Mostly, they're Berkeley twentysomethings, best known for their ability to whine about just about anything.

Berkeley twentysomethings like to talk a lot, and in Groove, that's what they do. One minute they get out on the dance floor, then they retire to a back room or the basement to chit-chat, then a new DJ comes out, and the cycle repeats. Through this conceit, we are introduced to people like Leyla (Lola Glaudini), a New York transplant looking to hook up with the scene in SF, and David (Hamish Linklater), a Midwestern rave newcomer. Then there's David's brother Colin (Denny Kirkwood) and his girlfriend Harmony (Mackenzie Firgens), to whom Colin intends to propose... only later we find him making out with some guy. Later, the moral of the entire tale is spat out by Rachel True's character near the end: "Eat dinner before you take drugs." Huh? This story is right out of 90210. No, it's worse than 90210.

While Groove - the story is pretty limp, Groove - the slice of life examining today's counterculture is far better realized. Watching the DJs (all real-life rave disc jockeys) interact with the (teensy) crowd is probably the most fun there is to have in the movie. Considering its small budget, the set design and production values are uniformly high. Groove looks more like Go than any indie flick. That's impressive.

Again, it's the pedestal that the crowd of Groove (and its filmmakers) put DJs upon that makes the film so intriguing. Who knew that people with names like Polywog and Digweed (a really famous DJ) would become recognizable on sight to rave aficionados, as famous as any cut-rate film critic? It's enough to make you want to learn how to spin.

Party ball.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 19th October 2000

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: Chris Ferreira as Bill, Elizabeth Sung as Maggie, as Ernie, as Harmony, as Cliff, Bradley K. Ross as Aaron, as Colin, Jeff Witzke as Neil, as Beth