Les Claypool's laid-back mockumentary about a fictional jam band generates enough mild humor to keep the spoof rolling, but lacks the commitment and scope, not to mention the originality, of a "This Is Spinal Tap."
Les Claypool’s laid-back mockumentary about a fictional jam band generates enough mild humor to keep the spoof rolling, but lacks the commitment and scope, not to mention the originality, of a “This Is Spinal Tap.” Directed and thesped by musicians who know whereof they mock, pic coasts on the hit-and-miss spontaneity that reps a typical jam band’s bread and butter. Satisfied with small satiric flashes of recognition, “Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo” avoids forced, aggressive humor but rarely scales any great comedic heights. National Lampoon laffer, which opened Nov. 9 in scattered cities, seems unlikely to draw the uninitiated.The pseudonym-draped musicians, not having to establish their bonafides (unlike the actorly cast of “Spinal Tap”), delight in playing Electric Apricot’s derivative, extremely limited repertoire with varying degrees of awfulness. They are given to occasional spurts of competence and — after one of them is visited by the ghost of Jerry Garcia while passed out naked in the woods — even rise to unlikely improvisatory brilliance. Helmer Claypool, lead singer and bass player with Primus (when not slumming with his Flying Frog Brigade jam band), reserves the most thoroughly obnoxious role for himself as pretentious, opinionated egotist Lapland “Lapdog” Miclovich, Electric Apricot’s talentless drummer. Filling out the band are Claypool’s longtime fellow musicians: Adam Gates as bassist Steve “Aiwass” Trouzdale; Bryan Kehoe as guitarist Steve “Gordo” Gordan, and Jonathan Korty as keyboardist Herschel Tambor Brillstein. Guest appearances by the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Phish’s Mike Gordon and Government Mule’s Warren Hynes and cameos by comedy mavens Seth Green and Matt Stone round out the celeb cast. Pic follows the band-bio blueprint with nonchalant faithfulness and a positively serene disinterest in structural innovation. Thus, viewers are treated to the band’s humble beginnings outside coffee-houses, the obligatory ego-butting recording session and the long dreamt-of appearance at the prestigious “Festeroo.” Humor flows naturally from Electric Apricot’s self-important pronouncements, with an occasional throwaway stunner (“I felt like Hitler at Waterloo”). Though the evolution of the band’s name is not exactly side-splitting, Lapdog’s explanation of how the lightning bolt on the band’s logo differs from the Grateful Dead’s is one for the books. Tech credits are suitably grungy.