Imagine The Inbetweeners if they were an aspiring jangly rock quintet living in Manchester in 1990. The result would be Spike Island.The film tells the story of a gang of lads who just want to get off with girls, be in a band and meet their idols, The Stone Roses at the latter band’s Spike Island show. This coming-of-age drama is ramshackle, euphoric and an earnest celebration of one part of the Madchester scene.
The story is a fictional one that feels forced but is based on a true event. The Spike Island concert would become as legendary as The Beatles’ rooftop gig or The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall. The film is directed by Mat Whitecross and written by Chris Coghill, who clearly know their Manis from their Hookys. And while the premise seems good enough, the plot is insubstantial as there isn’t enough here by itself to fuel a full-length feature. Instead, a series of subplots involving the major characters in various forms of hijinks and mischief are introduced with varying effect.
Elliott Tittensor plays “Tits” who is the leader of the pack. His wayward brother has sorted the group out with tickets to Spike Island. Or has he? Tits and his mates soon encounter a series of different obstacles to the gig, including parental sickness, a bizarre love triangle, a violent father, a van without petrol and a driver that hasn’t considered a map. The characters are all likeable and interesting enough but what really endears this film is the classic music by The Stone Roses, which forms the bulk of the film’s soundtrack.
Spike Island doesn’t have the same panache as a John Hughes film but it’s also more than just another teen movie. It is one brimming with bundles of joy, energy and heart (and the odd, daggy cliché). Fans of the Roses or the nineties will love this fun and nostalgic romp (that includes cameos from stars of Misfits and Game Of Thrones). But there will also be more than a few of us wishing we had actually been there at the time or that we had a film of the Spike Island gig itself, but that would involve some kind of second coming…
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Spike Island is released on DVD through Eagle Entertainment on November 19.