1993. When I think back to that particular year I think of, well, the end of high school but the profusion of joyous entertaiment that my eyes and ears fed on. From films like Tom Hanks’s big comeback moment “Philadelphia” to the Oscar Nominated ‘popcorn’ flick “The Fugitive”, to the awesomely addictive “Melrose Place”, it was a great time for pleasure seekers But of everything I remember from that time it’s Pearl Jam, the seminal rock band of the early ’90s.
And I’m not alone. Cameron Crowe, who at the time was best known as the director of popular but not overly successful films like “Say Anything.. ” and “Singles”, bowed at the altar of the band (so much so he recruited them to provide the sounds to the latter film). A love that developed when Crowe, working as a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, was assigned the task of interviewing the blossoming band, it’s an artist and fan bond that exists till today.
More a love letter to the band than a warts n’ all documentary on some wild musician types (like Metallica bio “Some kind of Monster”), Crowe’s “Pearl Jam Twenty” is exactly what it’s title says it is — a look at two decades in the life of one of the world’s most popular surviving bands.
There’s footage of early gigs, audition tapes, camcorder footage of the guys growing up, archival material of Kurt Cobain talking about his competitor, and mostly, some beautifully frank in-depth interviews with lead singer Eddie Vedder and the band. There’s a lot to love, in other words.
The doco’s strength lies in it’s conception; it’s a slick production that, not surprisingly considering who the director is, blends music and visuals well. And while there’s a lack of scandalous stories, ugly fights and chapter-jumping highlight sequences, it’s still an engrossing documentary.
It’s not a doco that will appeal outside of Pearl Jam’s fan community but those that do know the lyrics to “Animal” or “Alive” start to end will struggle to find a vedder, er better, biopic on the gods of grunge.
A couple of songs plus quite a few deleted scenes. Again, fans will love it.