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Rated [R], 86 minutes
Starring Lola Glaudini, Hamish Linklater, Denny Kirkwood, MacKenzie Firgens
Written and Directed by Greg Harrison

IN SHORT: Buy the CD.

The music may change. The drugs may change but an all night party is still an all night party. The difference between clubbing and raving is that raves are held illegally. Locations change nightly. Maps are distributed instead of or sometimes along with tickets. Advertising is by voice mail, e-mail, word of mouth; sometimes one, sometimes all. And, apparently, the DJs work in shifts. In this case, it means a killer techno soundtrack but for us old folk, not much else.

Here's the difficulty in making a movie with the "experience" of raving as its text. You can't get an intangible emotional feeling, especially one enhanced by illegal stuff, on to a piece of film. Well, maybe if you get the lights and sound right and your audience walks in to the theater zonked to the back of their skulls. Or if your audience has already had the experience and can relate that personal experience, their own baggage, to whatever story is running on the screen.

That's the problem with Groove, this month's film about an all night rave (last month we had Human Traffic out of Britain. Same kind of event. Different approach to telling the story). Groove, set in San Francisco and assumedly based on the personal knowledge of writer/first time director Greg Harrison takes place across a singular weekend. A vacant building in a remote corner of the city is found, checked out and "approved" by those who own the PA. eMail and Internet chat rooms buzz with the news of a party. New kid in town David (Hamish Linklater) is lugged to his first rave by his brother Colin (Denny Kirkwood), who has a surprise in store for girlfriend Harmony (MacKenzie Firgens). Colin also has heavy duty doses of Ecstasy for his crew and while they all trip through the rooms of the rave, David slips into crash mode and is talked through the bad part of his trip by another transplanted foreigner, Leyla from New York (Lola Glaudini). There are a couple of other kidlets who have concurrently running stories: a drug maker and his immune to the effects roommate; a gay couple celebrating their almost one year anniversary; the local cop who knows full well that he's being bs'd by the party throwers.

What is required of you, the audience member, to get into the groove (sic) is that you've gone through the experience at least once. Admittedly, this reviewer is no stranger to the all-night long dope til you drop party mentality. While raving may like to think it enables a community experience, there's nothing here that's new to anyone that's gotten stoned with pals in a club. That includes getting an OD through the night (or off to the hospital, if needed. Been there. Done that. None of your business, either . . .) While Groove tries hard to get you into the party scene by letting you watch the various characters make their way through the events of the night, the film is written in such a way that unless you've experienced that communal stoner effect at least once, you're just not gonna get it.

And if you have (Ecstasy was brand new back in my psylocibin tea days) you still may not get it. There may be something specific to the high of the Ecstasy drug that's a given to those who have taken it -- I saw Groove with a younger audience who were laughing and reacting stuff that didn't deserve any such reaction. That, in itself, is the problem with drugs. You can't properly explain the rush other than getting someone to do the stuff. While that leads to a very funny bit of dialog in the movie, a take on a popular game show, I'm going to invoke our "no comparison to Source Material" rule on this one. You shouldn't have to read a book to understand a movie. You shouldn't have to do the drugs to understand it, either.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Groove, he would have paid...


That's the midweek rental level. If you've been popping vitamin "e" don't bother with the dissmail. You've already read my reaction above.

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