original Los Angeles Film Festival review, published June 16, 2010.
Comparisons of Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone to 2009's hit documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil are
inevitable. Both films deal intimately with a hugely influential band
that never made it as big as they should have, despite fans and devotees
who went on to become huge stars in their fields. While Everyday Sunshine lacks the emotional resonance of Anvil,
it's still a fascinating portrait of the disillusion of a unique band
whose original style not only rocked the music world, but inspired many
who went on to successful and lucrative careers.
members of Fishbone, however, were not so lucky. Arriving in the midst
of racial and economic tension in Reagan era Los Angeles, Fishbone was
inspired by the flourishing punk rock scene, which many identified as a
specifically "white" sound. The members of Fishbone, all African
American, took punk rock and put their own special spend on it, blending
punk with funk while incorporating the ideas and individual styles of
each member to create a sound that defied categorization. The result was
widespread critical acclaim and respect from fellow artists, but a
completely baffled record label that had no idea how to market such an
unclassifiable style, which didn't fit the sound of what was generally
considered to be "black" or "white" music. Fishbone defied stereotypes
and obliterated racial divides, but their success was shortlived, and
the band soon succumbed to infighting and creative disagreements.
mixes interviews with the members of Fishbone with members of the
recording industry from Gwen Stefani, to Ice-T, to Flea, to George
Clinton, each one detailing how they were influenced or personally
touched by Fishbone's flair and creativity. The film's real drama,
however, comes from the behind the scenes portrait of the troubles that
brought the band down, whether it be band member Kendall's religious
brainwashing and subsequent meltdown to creative differences that
created rifts between the remaining members.
it's not just the portrait of a great band that should have achieved
greater commercial success, but of the dissolution of a democracy.
Fishbone started as the purest form of democratic artistry,
incorporating each individual member's style and ideas into one unique
sound that was impossible to pin down. But disagreements were all but
inevitable, and in the end it was the very thing that made them unique
that ended up bringing them down. And while original members Angelo
Moore and Norwood Fisher have kept the band alive in various forms
throughout the years, it has become less and less a democratic vision
and more the brainchild of Angelo.
chronicles this evolution with remarkably clear eyes and lack of
sentimentality, with narration by Laurence Fishburne. And while this
kind of straightforward approach can be emotionally distancing, it's a
fascinating historical account of a band most people should have heard
of but probably haven't. It also lacks a strong conclusion to bring it
all together after the band is reunited for the first time in 15 years.
The film up until then, however, is an undeniably engaging look at a
very specific moment in time, out of which came something truly unique.
And while most of the world passed them by, Fishbone now lives on in
celluloid form thanks to this spirited and admiring documentary.
GRADE - ★★½ (out of four)
EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE | Directed by Lev Anderson & Chris Metzler | Featuring Fishbone, Flea, Ice-T, Gwen Stefani, Perry Farrell, Bob Forrest, George Clinton | Not Rated | Opens Friday, 10.7, in NYC, and 10.21 in LA.