High Fidelity follows a grumpy record store owner as he talks us through all his breakups with non-stop music references. And like Barry Manilow, it turns out not to live up to its reputation.
The way people talk about this film, you would think it’s the Milkshake by Kelis of romcoms, but it’s closer to being Candle in the Wind; something other people love by I just can’t get into.
The main character, grumpy Rob Gordon (John Cuzack), feels like a bargain basement Bernard Black, a shabby shopkeeper who shuns the social and is surrounded by his surreal staff, eternally entrenched with eccentrics. He is never as interesting or memorable as he could be, like You Rock My World by Michael Jackson. An addition of some dry wit, biting sarcasm or amusing cynicism would be welcome, as Cuzack proves that speaking in monotone is not enough to portray an amusingly grumpy man.
The comedy, as with all of this film’s best moments, comes from Rob’s two shop assistants, who, like Shakira, care more about music than customer service. Jack Black sets the template for annoying, loud, movie fatties for years to come, paving the way for the likes of Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy and Robert De Niro, and carves himself out a nice little niche in the process. His quiet co-worker Dick (Todd Louiso) is like a low profile Moby or a high profile Phil Collins. Basically, he’s bald. But, like a Queen concert, he is enjoyable to watch.
The main problem with the film is one it shares with bands like NWA or The Spice Girls: there are no decent female characters. This is a big problem for a romcom about a bloke and his ex-girlfriends. Once he stops talking about them in chronological order it becomes hard to decipher which of these dull women is which, like spending a weekend on a yacht with Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha. They’re about as interesting as an audience with Gary Barlow.
The way people talk about this film you’d think it was A Fifth of Beethoven, but it’s closer to Viva la Vida by Coldplay; uninteresting, unispiring and not as good as clocks.