MSRP: $26.95
RUNNING TIME: 81 Minutes
• Behind-the-scenes footage
• Additional Air Guitar Performances
• “Where are they now?” updates
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
• 5.1 Surround Sound

The Pitch

Stop Making Sense meets Harvey.

The Humans

David “C-Diddy” Jung, Dan “Bjorn Turoque” Crane and a host of the world’s best air guitarists duel it out for the claim to be called the world’s greatest.

"Let’s all give a hearty welcome to our guest judge, Ron Kovacs!"

The Nutshell

Every year in Oulu, Finland the Air Guitar World Championships take place in order to crown a delegate from this spinning orb of ours as the world’s finest air guitarist. Up until recently, the United States had not been sending a delegate of their own to this competition. The film chronicles the first-ever US Air Guitar tournament, focusing on David “C-Diddy” Jung, an aspiring actor with a flair for the dramatic/ridiculous and Dan ‘Bjorn Turuqoue” Crane, whose determination to make it to Oulu is nearly matched by his air guitar prowess. Who will make it there? Can either of them match up to the world’s best air guitarists? Will we hear Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” for literally the seventh or eighth time this year in a motion picture?

The Lowdown

This was one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve been treated to recently, as Air Guitar Nation is a funny, thrilling and even contemplative picture that manages to form its basis around a wholly ridiculous concept and then proceed to fully flesh itself out as a work of supreme entertainment and rock.

The judges were harsh, but reasonable on Tony Todd in the inaugural episode of So You Think You Can Measure Celebrity Penis?

I’d put this particular film in the league of another recent documentary feature from the past few years, Spellbound. They both manage to mine considerable suspense out of a subject matter that most would use simply for mockery, and both manage to develop their core cast to the point that you can’t help but root for all of the characters involved (although I will admit, Bjorn was getting on my nerves in the early going, only later did his character finally flesh itself out and become sympathetic), as you’ve become invested in their successes and hope the conclusion somehow works out for everyone. 

It was at this point Jeremy realized his epilepsy dovetailed perfectly with the bridge in his performance.

Also worthy of note is how the film’s arc mirrors that of the viewer. At first you don’t look at the subject matter as serious in any way and the participants in the American leg of the tournament only heighten the ridiculousness of the goings on. However, the viewer and the film both gradually drift over to the side of ‘Air Guitar as performance art’ and grow to appreciate the more technically adept and energetic performances throughout the piece and finally see the tournament as a wholly legitimate enterprise. In that way it’s similar to another rousing doc released earlier this year, The King of Kong. At first, your entertainment is derived from the ridiculousness of the premise and how its participants are taking it so seriously, but you find yourself completely drawn in by the end of the film with your emotions wholly invested in what you initially were dismissing as somewhat trivial.

What most took as a pointed critique of the current political administration’s warmongering was actually just one man making his preference known for the next VH1’s Behind the Music special.

It’s the rare documentary that happens to tell a rousing underdog story while adding comedy, drama, and a nice dash of political pretensions. There’s a great deal of social commentary going on here, as the majority of the participants have some pretty low opinions of those who come from America and Bjorn especially is on the receiving end of the cold shoulder at a couple of points in the film. However, his ability to play an invisible guitar really well breaks down the emotional barriers delegates from other countries had set up against him. It feels true to life that people can band together over the minutiae to combat the bigger things in life and a film like this is an affirmation of that notion. There’s also a bit of the philosophical on display here: the founder of the world-wide tournament espouses on his life philosophy (basically using the air guitar as a tool to let our any repressed emotion in an outburst of joyous energy), as well as others saying that if you pick up an air guitar there’s no place in your hands for a weapon. But most importantly of all, this movie rocks out when it needs to. Some of the performances are by those clearly doing it for laughs, but the more seasoned veterans or people who take it slightly more seriously genuinely give you the feeling they feel like a rock star with an invisible weapon of choice. It’s hard not be exhilarated when you witness C-Diddy’s routine for the first time (although his lack of deviation from his original performance is disappointing) or Bjorn fighting for his chance to be included in the world’s tournament. It’s an absolute blast of a movie. Recommended.

"Come on Hollow Man baby, don’t be such a tease."*

*Only Hollow Man joke to be made although it could continue on into infinity with these screencaptures

The Package

The cover art is generic and quote-dominated, but still somehow manages to carry the infectious energy of the movie through its one image so I’ll give it a pass.  The video quality is negligible, what with it being a documentary and all, but the audio quality is solid, which is more important in a film where the rock takes such precedence as it does here.  In terms of extras, there’s a theatrical trailer and then about thirty-five minutes of deleted scenes.  The DVD advertises these under a bunch of different names: additional performances, where are they now’s, etc. but they’re all housed under the title of deleted scenes.  And kudos to the filmmakers here for deleting these scenes, as the majority of them would’ve been detrimental to the film if included.  Some of them are played for comical effect too much, which would’ve only interfered with the audience caring for the participants and could’ve sunk the film as a whole.  They’re fine to watch outside of the film, but they could’ve been deadly if left inside of it.  While the extras aren’t great, the movie kinda is, so definitely recommended.

7.7 out of 10