Review: ‘Ahead of Time’

If Pink Floyd can manage a reunion, then why not The Studmen, the pop band created for the 1982 hit comedy "On Top!" from vet Agust Gudmundsson, and now brought together for his "Ahead of Time"? This half-cracked cousin of Abba may be worthy of an extended video, but at feature length, goofball exercise gets lost in the Icelandic snow.

If Pink Floyd can manage a reunion, then why not The Studmen, the pop band created for the 1982 hit comedy “On Top!” from vet Agust Gudmundsson (“The Seagull’s Laughter”), and now brought together for his “Ahead of Time”? This half-cracked cousin of Abba may be worthy of an extended video, but at feature length, goofball exercise gets lost in the Icelandic snow. Beyond limited exposure as Iceland’s Oscar entry, pic hasn’t been seen very much beyond the island, and it looks to remain that way.

Two decades later, The Studmen’s players are either in funeral or New Age businesses or barely keeping afloat as a bar band in resort hotels along Spain’s Costa del Sol. When the band is fired from its latest gig, the players pack up and return home. Frimann (Jakob Frimann Magnusson) is dogged by dreams of a reunion band, but it’s an uphill battle convincing the old guys to come up with new tunes.

Nearly every scene here is punctuated by a musical number, some recalling Jacques Demy, others resembling Europeanized MTV videos, and all trying extremely hard to be funny.

This effort to be humorous makes “Ahead of Time” play like a wildly overextended joke on the theme of the folly of old rockers trying once again to get their groove on. What may be of most interest to rock mavens is pic’s deliberate contrast of the geezers to the new generation of Reykjavik musicians who have put Iceland on the international music map.

Egill Olafsson as Kristinn and Ragnhildur Gisladottir as Harpa work up some nice friction as old lovers brought together again, and Eggert Thorleifsson as Duddi delivers some droll moments spoofing New Age quacks.

Vid-to-film transfer is only fair, preventing pic from looking as good as it should. Cast’s own songs (credited as The Studmen) ooze pop confection.

Ahead of Time

Iceland

Production

A Bjarmaland production. (International sales: Icelandic Film Center, Reykjavik, Iceland.) Produced by Jakob Magnusson. Directed by Agust Gudmundsson. Screenplay, Gudmundsson, Eggert Thorleifsson, Egill Olafsson, Jakob Frimann Magnusson, Ragnhildur Gisladottir, Tomas Tomasson, Thordur Arnason.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Vidir Sigurdsson; editor, Saevar Gudmundsson; music, The Studmen; costume designer, Rebekka A. Ingimundardottir; makeup, Ragna Fossberg; sound, Petur Einarsson. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (Awards Buzz), Jan. 7, 2006. Running time: 94 MIN. (Icelandic, English, Spanish dialogue)

With

Duddi - Eggert Thorleifsson Kristinn - Egill Olafsson Frimann - Jakob Frimann Magnusson Harpa - Ragnhildur Gisladottir Skafti - Tomas Tomasson Baldvin - Thordur Arnason Kari Mar - Hoskuldur Olafsson
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