Unsolicited Replacements Documentary Review

Color Me Obsessed
Starring: a bunch of Replacements fans
Directed by Gorman Bechard
2012

Julien Temple’s year 2000 Sex Pistols documentary The Filth & The Fury is artistically notable in that it refuses to show the band members in present day, cloaking their physical wear and tear in literal shadows and only allowing the Pistols to be seen via 1970s news footage and home movies. Gorman Bechard goes a few steps further with his Replacements narrative Color Me Obsessed—the old bird doesn’t show any photos or movies of the band at all (save the final frames of the movie). Bechard also doesn’t use any of the Replacements’ music, instead allowing the entire story of these ramshackle indie rock pioneers to be told via the talking heads of fans and friends. It’s an odd gambit but one fitting of the Mats who are, in fact, one of the last rock groups to have a legend cushioned by endless too-good-to-be-true second hand anecdotes that remain unverifiable thanks to their existence in a pre-Internet age.

Yes, upon the release of their landmark third album Let It Be, the Replacements attempted to erase their first two albums from history by throwing what they thought were the master tapes of those records into the Mississippi River. No, humble guitarist Bob Stinson did not tell his future wife Carleen about his successful underground rock group, introducing himself to her as a mere pizza cook. Yes, Tupac Shakur was horrified when Tom Arnold told him the Replacements had been banned from “Saturday Night Live” for defecating in a cooler backstage and sending it to the first floor of 30 Rockefeller Center. No, no one can agree which Replacements album sucks more, Don’t Tell a Soul or All Shook Down. Yes, Matt Pinfield is as annoying as you remember him.

It’s hard to say how effective or captivating Color Me Obsessed would be to the strange alien who’d never heard a lick of Replacements music. There is certainly a linear tale here, no different than if a group of bar flies were piecing together a tall tale for you, and the emotion behind the testimonials will surely pique some virgin’s interest in tracking down a worn vinyl copy of Hootenanny. For those of us already enraptured by the tough but tender “aw shucks” songwriting of Westerberg and Co. this doc is required viewing, if only for reassurance that their are plenty of other schlubby white folks out there still gritting their teeth to “Hayday” and “Bastards of Young.”

FINAL SCORE: Three raspy former MTV veejays (out of four).

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