What does one really expect from a film from 1980 that stars Meat Loaf, a plethora of musicians, and softcore porn king Zalman King's first producing gig? Well, you get an incoherent and chaotic mess of a film with no real story arc, but with Meat Loaf's charming character and some small yet fun cameos, this little film still makes me laugh with all of its absurdness.
'Roadie' seems to just wander aimlessly from gig to gig with Travis Redfish (Meat Loaf) being the one constant that brings our cast of characters together. Travis, who seems to still live with his crazy inventor father (Art Carney) and his sister (Rhonda Bates), makes a spectacular slow entrance by descending down on a rope in their own house/shop. Travis, a truck driver, sees a big camper stranded on the side of the road and decides to pull over and help out. Here he meets Lola Bouillabaise (Kaki Hunter), a groupie whose goal in life is to be the best groupie ever. Currently, she is traveling with Hank Williams Jr.
Travis then decides to join the tour as a roadie with the hot Lola, thus begins his adventure. More than seeing our main character go through an emotional change or have any real story arc, this seems to just be Travis traveling from place to place, getting into trouble, poorly performing his duties, and watching some fun music performances. I expect that if Chris Farley were still alive, that they would have remade this film with him in mind, with the same silliness that made his films iconic.
Meat Loaf is so much fun to watch here, as he plays a dim-witted, but lovable idiot who loves to have fun every step of the way. Hunter is also fun to watch, with one of the best moments in the film occurring as she tries to understand that the stage version of Alice Cooper is completely different from the real Alice Cooper. Carney provides laughs as a mad-scientist inventor, something that Tom Waits now would say yes to. Cameos from Alice Cooper to Roy Orbison, to Hank Williams Jr. to Blondie, all are a pleasure to see on film, even if some are quite small.
The music is the best thing going for this film with Meat Loaf being very enjoyable to watch through these over-the-top antics. 'Roadie' isn't a great film with the normal film set up, but if you're a fan of 70s and 80s music and Meat Loaf, this has your name written all over it.
'Roadie' comes with decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Shout! has done a nice job of cleaning the image up. The detail is fine with good closeups that showcase the actors' facial hair and wrinkles. In wider shots, the image still looks good, but comes across softer. There is a fine layer of grain throughout with it getting heavier during the lower lit scenes.
That being said, this movie has a good filmic look to it. Colors are well saturated and balanced, with the black levels running deep and inky. Skin tones also run natural and smooth. There are still a couple of instances of dirt that pop up here and there. There are no compression issues.
This release appears to have an epic flaw. Shout! claims the disc has two audio mixes. A lossless DTS-HD 2.0 mix and a DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. Well, if you choose the 5.1 option, literally nothing will come out of your speakers. Seriously, it's silent. I wonder if they even recorded it. That being said, the 2.0 mix does its job.
It's unfortunate though, because this is a film with tons of good music and would have sounded great in 5.1. The dialogue always comes out crystal clear and is easy to understand with no evidence of pops, cracks, or hissing. The music sounds amazing, I only wish I could hear the ambient noises and sound effects from the concerts in the surrounds. The dynamic range is wide here as well. Besides the 5.1 option not really being there, this 2.0 does a good job.
'Roadie' is not your tradition three act story. Rather, it's just a blended up mess, following a crazy yet lovable guy from gig to gig, riddled with some talented performers of the time era. Meat Loaf is amazing in this picture, which makes this vehicle watchable. The music is great too. The video presentation looks good, but with the audio problem, I was disappointed. The commentary track was a blast to listen to as well. If you're a fan of the era of music and of Meat Loaf, than this comes recommended. Otherwise, you aren't missing much.