Green Day Give Fans Look at ‘American Idiot’ History With ‘Heart Like a Hand Grenade’ Film
The John Roecker-directed documentary Heart Like a Hand Grenade screened in theaters this week and it gave viewers a look behind the curtain of one of this century's biggest albums -- Green Day's American Idiot. The film chronicles the nine month recording process and gives an in depth look at the making of each song on the notable release.
Was it a comeback album? Was it a punk rock opera? From the rock doc, the band made it clear that American Idiot was more personal than political, delving into the loss of individuality. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong states in the movie that he wanted to get into the “headspace of rocking out in front of a mirror at 14.”
Green Day wanted American Idiot to be a departure from their previous albums, and they succeeded. Armstrong joked that fans were going to think “How long was that f---ing song?” The movie explores the epic “Jesus of Suburbia” as well as the heart-wrenching “Wake Me Up When September Ends” among other album favorites. In between the very funny studio footage of songwriting and recording there were snippets of concert footage as well. During the screening this reviewer attended, viewers even clapped as if they were actually at the show. The audience watching the documentary couldn’t stop themselves from bopping their heads, tapping, shaking their legs and moving to the very catchy tunes.
The movie does a great job of exploring the collaborative effort between all of the band members to create these catchy songs. It also really captures the intricacies of songwriting, exploring specific influences and letting viewers be a fly on the wall watching their musical ideas as they happen. The documentary also gives fans some insight into the different sides of the music business from the artist’s perspective, following the band through the creative decision of choosing album art and some of the other decisions not entirely related to any songs.
There are a couple of parts dealing with topic of alcohol which have both a humorous and dark undertone. Armstrong jokes about teaching kids how to drink responsibly, a scene that takes on a different perspective now given the singer's stint in rehab a few years back. It should also be noted that some of the most fun parts of the documentary occurred anytime drummer Tre Cool was on screen, sporting various percussive toys and unique costumes.
Some lighter forms of irony in the film include the foreshadowing of the producer predicting the band winning the Grammy for Best Rock Album and the band making fun of the thought of American Idiot ever making it to Broadway, which it surely did.
The ending credits of the documentary concluded by giving thanks to fans “who waited 11 years” for this film, and those viewing will want to stay to the end as Billie Joe Armstrong offers a very lighthearted moment after the credits have scrolled.
If you’re a Green Day fan, then chances are you loved American Idiot and if you like the band and album then you will love Heart Like a Hand Grenade. The film will be released digitally and on DVD on November 13th.
Check Out the Trailer for Green Day’s Documentary Heart Like a Hand Grenade:
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