It's All Gone Pete Tong
Starring Paul Kaye and Mike Wilmot. Rated 18A. Opens Friday, June 10, at the Paramount
What's funnier than a DJ going deaf? Well, how about a DJ going deaf at the peak of his career? Such is the seemingly limited material served up by It's All Gone Pete Tong, a surprisingly witty comedy of musical manners that manages to convey a lot about art and fashion without breaking much of a sweat.
A strong, satisfying follow-up from the writer-director of the much simpler Fubar, Pete Tong is built on the knockout performance of Paul Kaye, who plays Frankie Wilde. He's an English DJ who virtually rules the sweaty Ibiza scene with his combination of crowd-pleasing beats, omnivorous musicality, and outsized personality. That last part involves nonstop smoking, drinking, and so much coke he has his own personal giant panda bear laying out lines for him. Well, okay, he just thinks he does.
Frankie has a huge seaside house, a trampy wife who's already looking for something better, and a small child who wouldn't need a DNA test to prove who's not his dad. But the turntable maven doesn't mind holding it all together-until he starts missing his cues.
"Denial is a river in Egypt," someone astutely observes when Frankie fails to suss out what's actually happening. His cigar-chomping manager (Mike Wilmot, who gets funnier as the film moves along) decries the fate of nonhearing types in the field of music, "aside from the obvious example". But roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tií«sto the news; after Frankie bottoms out, he starts seeking out ways to get his creativity back and to meet a woman (Beatriz Batarda) who doesn't care about his rep. That's when Pete Tong picks up an emotional undercurrent the earlier sections only hinted at.
Throughout, the movie has a zippy visual style, with sun-dappled primary colours and whirlwind editing to go with the hip pop tunes and block-rockin' beats. There are also quick cameos from real-life DJs like Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, and Pete Tong (who also executive-produced this, by a weird coincidence). But Dowse doesn't try to milk these for more than they are worth. On the other hand, the presence of Fubar rockers Paul Spence and David Lawrence, as Austrian hangers-on, feels like merely an excuse to have old buddies on the set. The panda thing gets kind of old, too. There are few other missteps here, however, in a movie that knows just when to drop the needle.