Girls Rock! [DVD] review by [Documentary Film]

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  • Released: Jan 27, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Content: 9
  • Production Quality: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 4.9 (59 votes)
[Documentary Film]: Girls Rock! [DVD]
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Sound — 9
While every young musician between the ages of 8 and 18 already goes through growing pains, filmmakers Shane King Arne Johnson opted to focus their efforts on an often ignored segment of that demographic: girls. Plenty of publicity has been given to the School of Rock organizations popping up all over the country, but the documentary Girls Rock! delves inside the Rock N' Roll Camp For Girls in order to chronicle the lives of 100 young ladies whose lives are changed over the course of 5 days. There's much more involved with this particular facility than your traditional co-ed music camp, with a strong emphasis on overcoming the stigmas attached with being not only a female musician, but a female in general. While it might not necessarily sound like guys' watching material, you might just find yourself rooting for the cast of characters/students (particularly the precocious, Sonic Youth-loving Amelia).

Over the course of 5 days, the 100 girls will form a band, write a song, possibly learn an instrument, and perform the finished product in front of 750 cheering fans. One of the most interesting aspects about the Rock N' Roll Camp For Girls is that many of the students have never picked up an instrument in their lives. That could possibly spell disaster if the primary purpose of the camp was to turn them into female Wolfgang Van Halens, but Girls Rock! drives home the point that these girls are finally finding ways to express themselves. It definitely has the feel-good movie vibe down pat, and the filmmakers could not have found a more amusing bunch of gals. Between princess-like Palace (who likes to write songs about getting rid of her principal and sometimes causes tensions in her band) and death metal devotee Laura (a Korean adoptee whose outgoing personality masquerades her insecurities), you can't help but wonder if these rough-around-the-edges youngsters will create onstage.

Content — 9
The main feature runs about 82 minutes, and it's definitely an engaging piece of film. If you can think back to when you first opted to pick up an instrument, you're likely to connect in some ways with the young girls. Even the discussions about body image and self-esteem are likely to strike a chord with anyone who has been to high school or middle school for that matter. You do see some familiar faces acting as mentors/camp counselors along the way, with Sleater Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and The Gossip's Beth Ditto lending their sage advice. For more insight into the making of the film, there is also a director's commentary.

Out of all the bonus material, probably the most engaging is the present-day look at a few of the featured students. We're shown interviews 3 years after the film was initially made, and there are some distinct differences in the children's lives. Let's just say that the hyperactivity has been toned down quite a bit. Other extras include a glimpse at the documentary Don't Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl, featuring interviews with members of Bikini Kill and Bonfire Madigan. Also included in the bonus section are behind-the-scenes skits performed at camp, as well as a music video for one selected band of kids.

Production Quality — 9
This film was obviously a labor of love, but that doesn't mean that the quality is poor. On the contrary, there was an immense amount of editing, which probably was a laborious task given that the 24 bands rehearsed and performed for 5 straight days. As was said earlier, you will end up rooting for many of these girls, and that would not have been the case without solid storytellers behind it all.

Overall Impression — 9
Girls Rock! is not your typical music DVD, so you should go into watching the documentary with an open mind. There might not be your typical badass metalheads in the film, but give the young girls a little leeway. I was honestly surprised at the creativity going inside some of these 8 and 9-year-old heads. Watching Amelia experiment with guitar feedback or Palace sing something about sending San Francisco to hell are things that don't necessarily fit the stereotypical female standard, and it's refreshing to see that unique talents celebrated.

95 comments sorted by best / new / date

    devilex121
    dash-rendar wrote: To decayingdave, if you're too stupid to realize that females are people, not just things you knock up and throw to the curb, you shouldn't be commenting on this. I haven't seen this documentary but I do plan on it. There are plenty of female rockers in the world and they do just fine. Hell, you probably listen to them yourself but won't admit it. Grow a pair, watch the movie, then critisize if you must.
    well said!
    sixstringdfreak
    decayingdave wrote: Why is this on UG? When people ask medical advice from 15 year olds in the pit, It has reason, when someone considers trivium to be metal, it has questionable reason - But when someone reviews something so ridiculous as this, there is no reason, only time consumption.
    Clearly you are so infuriated at what a waste of time posting this article was, and what better way to showcase your anger then by reading the entire article and then posting about it!
    BurningTheLives
    If the DVD is about people such as Angela from Arch Enemy, it may be worth picking up. Judging by the cover though I doubt it
    aliceskatergirl
    im a girl guitarist i dont see the big deal girls have the same chance as boys too be a rockstar..... i think
    brighteyes577
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree
    Boys Rock would just end up turning into a new Fall Out Boy
    theotherguy7145
    xplosive_wonton wrote: roarinflames wrote: Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree the ****in Donnas or even Kittie there are plenty look for them oh and L7 Garbage, Janis joplin, flyleaf, the cliks and of course distillers.
    GIRLSCHOOL! and JOAN JETT. and how can Paramore be considered "good"?
    PrettyxOdd
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree
    Okay. Well one: Paramore sucks. And two: You seriously need to do some research becuase those are probably the only two bands with a female that you know.
    ElDiabloMuerte
    misterfarenheit wrote: WHY HAS NO ONE COMMENTED ON THE ASTRONOMICAL SIZE OF THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE'S FOREHEAD!??!?! this film does the same thing as those pro-gay or pro-diversity posters and fliers. it reinforces the fact that the inequality exists, and that they deserve special treatment. no one deserves special treatment.
    I agree wholeheartedly with this dude!
    Jackolas
    Personally, Girlschool are the coolest all girl band. Proper British rock n roll & metal!
    CrueMan152
    "Over the course of 5 days, the 100 girls will form a band, write a song, possibly learn an instrument, and perform the finished product in front of 750 cheering fans." Wow..100 girls. That's alot for just one band. And possibly learn an instrument? LOL.
    Vedicardi
    I just watched the movie. It's really cool, but you gotta know that all the kids in the movie are just young teens and little kids. The point of the movie is more important though. People who say "girls all suck" are idiots, but more importantly, people who say "she plays good and she's cute" are just as bad. They just want to be treated as EQUALS. Looks are what matters, it's the love of the music.
    AmpleSteak
    xplosive_wonton wrote: AmpleSteak wrote: There has never been a girl that has been better than a male in instruments, stop supporting mediocrity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1sE5g jyek0
    Nothing special her pinky is almost non existant, bad technique. There are thousands of male bassists who can play better, don't treat her special just cause she has a vag.
    stratman_13
    roarinflames wrote: good female musicians: Kittie, The Donnas, Heart, girl from All That Remains, White Zombie bassist, etc. bad female musicians: ? idk ashley simpson or something i have a greater amount of respect for the majority female "rockers" than i do for the majority of male "rockers" there are a LOT of really suck male bands out there
    qft. That, and ATR bassist is pretty ****ing awesome. And why has nobody said Nancy Wilson? Or heart, for that matter? Bo Diddley played with a pretty kick-ass female guitarist back in his early days. Bonnie Rait is amazing, too. All That Remains, I think someone said Arch Enemy, The Donnas, Lacuna Coil, Stevie Knicks, half of Fleetwood Mac (of which SN was with for a period), Janis Joplin, Joan Jett.... Seriously. Women have just as an important place in rock as guys do.
    AngelOfGrief
    AmpleSteak wrote: There has never been a girl that has been better than a male in instruments, stop supporting mediocrity.
    Wow...you're a frickin' macho. What do you think women are capable of?Cleaning you're mouldy flat or something?I'm a female guitarist, starting a band (with guys) and really appreciate a documentary like this. It's really disappointing that so many male guitarists are well-known but females not...I hope I'm able to change it someday...or even encourage other girls to pick up the guitar, too. And I'm wondering that so many guys here have got this kind of opinion about female rockers. Here in Germany guys welcome female guitarists. At least I made the experience so far.But maybe you're only afraid that a woman could be even better on guitar than you .
    chickrawker
    it be more of "stopping the sterottyping" if the was a girl in a band of guys or something.. this doesnt really do what theyre trying too..
    rebreh
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree
    Hole,Heart,Fleetwood Mac,7 years bitch,blondie,ect.(there not completley all girl but you said paramore so..)
    emo-nemo
    to the comment above which i forgot to write. I am a girl and i hope to be a famous guitarist and you comment has just made me even more determined to change that! Actually extreamily determined! quite alot of girls are amazing at many instruments, if you havent seen go on youtube. There are alot of very VERY talented musicians (girls) that are extreamily talented.
    FrizAtHome
    Goddo, Janis Joplin, Heart, Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators, The Carrie Nations, Goldie and The Gingerbreads, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, The Slits, The Raincoats, Go-Go, Bangles, Hole, Fleetwood Mac. I think that might be enough bands, if you say that any of them arent good than you're either an ignorant/moronic rock fan, or your just a sexist.
    dannydesktop : i think the obvious is to say most women bands/rockers suck, that is most and not all. But then again the same thing can be said for guys and their bands, most of them suck, theres just more of them.
    SocialismCross
    for Gmurcielago14. Just because someone thinks that there are not so many girls out there that can rock the masses (GUITAR WISE), makes him a sexist. Most of the influental guitarists (if not all) that we play after their steps are guys.
    Gmurcielago14
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree
    Naw, cause then you'd be sexist. Kinda like having a white pride parade...
    FiveStarMotel
    There are way too many female musicans to name of course girls can rock. This is kinda strange finding this on UG
    travislausch
    roarinflames wrote: good female musicians: Kittie, The Donnas, Heart, girl from All That Remains, White Zombie bassist, etc.
    Chloe from Pure Reason Revolution, Annette and Tarja from Nightwish, Eva Gardiner (ex-The Mars Volta), Anneke from The Gathering, Marcela Bovio from Elfonia and Stream Of Passion, Aruna Abrams from post-Cynic band Portal, and Sharon from Within Temptation are all women in prog, metal, and rock that disprove any preconception that girls don't rock.
    braineater.
    while yes, this documentary seems like a complete waste of time, some of these comments bum me out. not that i'm going to quit doing what i do, but it's still a little disheartening. :\
    jamesdjharrod
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree
    Donnas, Runaways, Go-Gos to name just three. And Boys Rock sounds like a gay porno
    maggotxxrainbow
    Ginger-les-tom wrote: the only girl rock band i canreally think of is L7.....and they were shit, Ive never heard or heard of a good girl rock band, sure they can be great singers and musicians, but just girls in a band never seems to work. Though i WANT to be proven wrong, but in the mean time.....DICK POWER!
    To Ginger-les-tom, HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO THE DISTANCE, FLEETWOOD MAC, THE DONNAS OR THE YEAH, YEAH, YEAHS?!?!?!? oh and yeah, girls do have a harder time to actually make it in the music industry, i would know, i'm in the music indusrty, and a girl
    Bighair
    Kablingy wrote: Sounds cool but I want a Boys Rock. I'm 12 and have been playing guitar for 1 1/2 years (Yeah I have no life but...) Plus tell me one good girl rock band apart from Paramore and Lacuna Coil (hmm) anyone agree those don't count they only have female leads dumbass
    Picking on 12 year olds obviously makes this guy feel hard. Kablingy, have you ever heard Crucifed Barbara? They're pretty ace.
    voidSkipper
    dash-rendar wrote: To decayingdave, if you're too stupid to realize that females are people, not just things you knock up and throw to the curb, you shouldn't be commenting on this. I haven't seen this documentary but I do plan on it. There are plenty of female rockers in the world and they do just fine. Hell, you probably listen to them yourself but won't admit it. Grow a pair, watch the movie, then critisize if you must.
    Is there something wrong with your head? He said that he found this video offensive because it reinforced negative stereotypes of women.
    marikomikeshi
    I'm sorry but Bikini Kill is a good enough reason to say girl bands don't always suck! Now days teen girls consider Miley Cyrus as an example because of shitty comments like "girls can't rock"! Things have to change guys this isn't the 70's!
    sk8blind4life8
    he never said anything wrong that it was about girls but he said abut stereo types
    dash-rendar wrote: To decayingdave, if you're too stupid to realize that females are people, not just things you knock up and throw to the curb, you shouldn't be commenting on this. I haven't seen this documentary but I do plan on it. There are plenty of female rockers in the world and they do just fine. Hell, you probably listen to them yourself but won't admit it. Grow a pair, watch the movie, then critisize if you must.
    amputecture
    Girls DO rock. My favorite is Poison Ivy from The Cramps. (RIP Lux). If only we could have more like her...
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    another case of people reinforcing stereotypes by "working against them," it's so retarded.
    Ninjabunnies
    I would see this but... if this is going to be like Camp Rock or some Mini Pop kids, I'm going to have to take action
    DEATHPANDA
    Eugh... this just makes me sick... another bunch of *****s that are going to grow into little clones of Avril Lavigne and make loads of money... has anyone noticed that good music is quickly becoming obsolete? Apocalypse much?
    cartlidge1993
    THE NEKRYPH wrote: decayingdave wrote: Well said. And furthermore, I find the title of this to be the perfect oxymoron.
    haha thats awesome
    23dannybhoy23
    The way I see it, rock instrument playing girls are usually just as good as their male counterparts (better, in a lot of cases), but women who sing in rock bands normally suck immensely.
    devilex121
    travislausch wrote: I just think it's strange that half of the comments here are sexist and reeking of bigotry!
    yeah pisses you off, doesnt it? i may be a guy but i'm kinda feminist too! (i'm not gay though)
    THE NEKRYPH
    decayingdave wrote: Why is this on UG? When people ask medical advice from 15 year olds in the pit, It has reason, when someone considers trivium to be metal, it has questionable reason - But when someone reviews something so ridiculous as this, there is no reason, only time consumption. ''...with a strong emphasis on overcoming the stigmas attached with being not only a female musician, but a female in general.'' - Do I even need to explain how wrong that is? If you want a dvd that reinforces stereotypes, buy this! Otherwise, find a better way to spend your money.
    Well said. And furthermore, I find the title of this to be the perfect oxymoron.