Synopsis: What do Donna Summer, Parliament, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers, The VillagePeople, and Bill Withers all have in common with the rock band KISS? They all rose to their musical heights under the watchful ear of the music industry’s most colorful and brilliant music producer, Neil Bogart, founder of Casablanca Records, the most successful independent record company of all time. Along with a rag tag team of young music lovers, Neil and Casablanca Records would rewrite history and change the music industry forever. Their mix of creative insanity, a total belief in each other and the music they were creating, shaped our culture and ultimately defined a generation. In a story so unbelievable that it can only be true, comes the motion picture event of the musical journey of Neil Bogart and how his Casablanca Record created the greatest soundtrack of our lives.
If you haven’t heard it before, hear it now, always bet on yourself. You only have one life so take a few risks. Make that career change, do something you love, and live your truth. If you pay attention, you’ll realize that no one actually knows what they are doing. Are you going to fail sometimes? Sure. However, you only truly fail when you stop trying.
“Dreams only come true for those who believe in them.”
What do you get when you mix infidelity, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and a mountain of debt? A highly entertaining and damn-near-impossible story. Directed by Timothy Scott Bogart, Spinning Gold is an unbelievable music-infused whirlwind. Based on a true story and the real life of Neil Bogart, the film takes place from 1966 to 1977 and is a mind-blowing journey that you won’t forget. As this mostly true legend rides high on funky tunes, huge loans, cocaine, and nostalgia, you’ll be dancing in your seat throughout and singing as you leave.
Narrated by Neil himself from his giant golden record-clad office, he reminds you that these are his memories and memories are true, just depends on whose version you get. From discovering some of the biggest artists that the world has ever seen, creating the best and most successful independent music label without a high school diploma, to avoiding getting his legs broken when he was almost 8 million dollars in debt, it’s a feat that has to be experienced. Nevertheless, this almost mythical tale isn’t about vanity or even all about the incomparable Mr. Bogart. The talent that almost never saw the light of day, the greatness and vision he saw in and for others when they may have not seen it in themselves, and how the industry would be forever changed, that’s what it’s about.
“Bet big to win big.”
The incredible story and Jeremy Jordan’s gravitational pull outweigh everything else in this film. Are the wigs, beards, and mustaches a little distracting? At first. Are there CGI and green screen moments that aren’t the best? Affirmative. Nonetheless, what keeps you glued to the screen and fully invested in the film is its story and performances. Not to mention, its unrelenting theme of believing in yourself and what you believe in is inspiring. Spinning Gold is candy for music lovers, especially for those who love backstory and context to their favorite songs or groups and for those who grew up in that era. It’s a rags-to-riches story that anyone with big dreams can relate to. Featuring a well-known cast as well as known artists playing known artists such as Jason Derulo as Ronald Isely, Pink Sweat$ as Bill Withers, and Wiz Khalifa as George Clinton, it’s a treat to hear their renditions of classic songs. Filled to the brim with great music, I only wish we got to hear longer versions. With its visual debt counter, dingy-to-flashy wardrobe and color palette, and drama at every turn, I challenge you to leave the theater unentertained. I was completely skeptical going into the film but with Bogart’s son at the helm, love and care flowed through the entirety of the film. I had a lot of fun with this film. Its rewatchability is high.
Pacing & Pop
The film has an excellent pace. As the story weaves between adolescence and adulthood, you’ll want to brace yourself because it’s a wild ride. What popped for me was all the behind-the-scenes nuggets of information and secrets that may or may not be 100% true. Some may have been Googleable, but you wouldn’t think to look some of these things up. For example, how the song Beth by KISS came to be or how Neil Bogart made a call to the mob to keep from getting killed by another mob.
Characters & Chemistry
Starring: Jeremy Jordan, Michelle Monaghan, Jay Pharoah, Lyndsy Fonseca, Dan Fogler, Peyton List, James Wolk, Michael Ian Black, Chris Redd, Vincent Pastore, Nick Sandow, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jason Isaacs, Casey Likes, Sam Harris, Wiz Khalifa, Pink Sweat$, Alex Gaskarth, Ledisi, Jason Derulo, Tayla Parx
Jeremy Jordan is nothing short of electric. With his charisma, confidence, and sincerity, he absolutely embodied the spirit of a hustler or a con man. However, Neil was neither, at least not in a negative connotation. But if this performance is anywhere close to how the real Neil was, it’s easy to see why he was so magnetic. While the rest of the cast did great, they were simply outshined by the force that is Jeremy Jordan.
Spinning Gold is now playing in theaters as of March 31, 2023. Remain safe and groove on.
Runtime: 2h 17m
Director: Timothy Scott Bogart
Writer: Timothy Scott Bogart
Producers: Timothy Scott Bogart, Jessica Martins, and Laurence Mark, and Chris Torto
Executive Producers: Evan “Kidd” Bogart and Harvey Mason, Jr., Kevin Weaver
Spinning Gold is an unbelievable music-infused whirlwind.
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.