March 31st, 2023
MOVIE: SPINNING GOLD
STARRING: JEREMY JORDAN, MICHELLE MONAGHAN, JASON ISAACS, JAY PHAROAH
DIRECTED BY: TIMOTHY SCOTT BOGART
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 STAR (Out of 4)
There have been statements from actors such as Seth Rogan and Rachel Zegler about the fierce commentary by film critics towards a movie they dislike. I’ve even had conversations with other friends about the matter and in reality critics are often kinder than ever before– seriously, go back and read some of Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert’s rips on movies they disliked. Their critiques could make or break careers. Today it’s all in a bubble and you can find plenty of reviews on either side of the coin. Does it suck when a movie earns a rotten rating, sure, but not every movie is going to be a winner. Plus, the majority of film critics want to love every movie they go see, and when a movie stinks it’s painful on all fronts. That brings me to my review of Spinning Gold, the biopic of famous music producer Neil Bogart, which is sadly an absolute mess. Here’s an example of a movie that I don’t want to be harsh with but the only way to describe it is a massive mistake.
To start, this is not just a movie that is bad, but it’s bad from the start, and then it is over two-hours long. It’s also a major mistake to have the film written and directed by Bogart’s own son Timothy Scott Bogart. Often, being too close to the subject can lead to material that is problematically sanitized. Spinning Gold is just that, a music biopic with all the problems of Bohemian Rhapsody and I Wanna Dance With Somebody combined. It’s a timeline telling, starting when Bogart was at his humble beginnings and allows us to watch his rise to success, producing names like Kiss, Donna Summer, and the Isley Brothers. But this should be a story read on Wikipedia and there is nothing thrilling enough for us to care.
The problems don’t just lie within the storytelling process, but all of the technical, and directing aspects. Green screen backgrounds look incredibly fake, along with back lot settings, and hair and makeup that will elicit a plethora of laughs. Bogart is played by Jeremy Jordan, who is tasked with narrating the entire time and portraying a man driven to achieve success. The story follows him from starting Casablanca Records, his marriage with wife Beth Weiss (Michelle Monaghan giving a blank performance), and his eventual affair with Joyce Biawitz (Lyndsy Fonseca). From scene to scene it feels like Spinning Gold is a Saturday Night Live bit, which isn’t helped by side roles from veterans Jay Pharoah and Chris Redd. If this is supposed to be a celebration of music it does the opposite and had me wondering if someone might request “more cowbell”.
Time and again the conversation surrounding music biopics will bring up Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Spinning Gold borders on repeating everything that made us laugh in the parody. Bogart of course does drugs and reminds us constantly how “they weren’t just making music…they were making history”. It is entirely possible that lines like this were uttered at the time but everything about it is so lame, so inauthentic, it becomes impossible to care what is happening at all.
The intentions seem to be to make a jukebox movie, where we meet hit musicians along the way, or a chance to say, “ohhh this is when Gladys Knight changes the line from “Midnight Train to Georgia” instead of Houston.” The possibility of Spinning Gold working seems slim. What it boils down to is that you can see every seam and phony beat in this track. I don’t want to be harsh but Spinning Gold is just a big hunk of junk.
SPINNING GOLD IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY MARCH 31ST, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady