Color Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements

The Replacements might be one of the most important American rock and roll bands ever, and Color Me Obsessed is an oral history told by their friends and fans. This film was made with current fans in mind, and they’re likely to love it. I caught a screening at Austin’s own Alamo Drafthouse where director Gorman Bechard was on hand for questions.

“Not wanting to make a VH1/where-are-they-now style documentary, I decided to present the band in a more iconic way,” Bechard explains. “I thought, people believe in God without seeing or hearing him but rather through the passion, faith, and stories of others. After watching Color Me Obsessed, I’m pretty sure music fans will believe in The Replacements in much the same way.” This tack has worked well for God, but it doesn’t for a band infamous for their erratic live shows and flamboyant behavior. I never got to see The Replacements live, so I was looking forward to chaotic, choppy club footage of drunken, raging shows. Leaving out the band completely means that the movie doesn’t necessarily concern itself with the conversion of potential fans. We want to believe, but we need to see the antics in order to believe in a god of this kind.

Color Me Obsessed features an impressive range of interesting voices, including Matt Gentling (Archers of Loaf bass player), Mark Schwahn (creator of One Tree Hill), members of Hüsker Dü, Colin Meloy, Steve Albini, Dave Foley, George Wendt, Tom Arnold, Matt Wallace, ex-wives, lovers, friends, managers, producers, label folks, and others, all of whom have differing opinions as to which release was “the last good Replacements record.” Though the movie strays by giving some people way too much screen time (The Goo Goo Dolls for three, but especially Jim Derogatis who cuts off Greg Kot every time he tries to speak, and Robert Voedisch, whom Bechard must owe money), it exacts incredible restraint in not vilifying erstwhile lead singer/songwriter Paul Westerberg and his slow exit from—and subsequent dissolution of—The Replacements. I imagine an entire alternate documentary of fans doing just that. The only place this really creeps into the movie is when it covers the firing of Bob Stinson (just after the release of 1985’s Tim), whose band it was in the first place, and in discussions of the last album under The Replacements’ moniker (1990’s All Shook Down, which is widely considered the first Westerberg solo record).

There is no doubt that The Replacements are more than important enough to deserve a documentary, but the fans deserve to see The Replacements. Telling the story from the hardcore fan’s perspective, Color Me Obsessed fails everyone except the hardcore fan.

Roy Christopher, 01 May 2012

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