Teen A Go Go is a mess of contradictions. What initially intrigued me about the doc was that it was a film that focused on rock and roll in the 1960s. An avid rock fan, this seemed like the ideal film. However, before going much further, readers should be warned. Teen A Go Go is about rock music in the 1960s, yes, but it is crafted with such a limited scope that it seems fit only for those condemned to live in the past. This lends a sort of sadness to the film, as it explores some of the more obscure garage bands of the Fort Worth, TX area in the tumultuous 60s. For those interested, yes, the film is almost exclusively devoted to Texas musicians and a Texas perspective on rock and roll. While the insight of some of the forgotten and some of the revered Texan bands is most certainly valid, Teen a Go Go focuses almost exclusively on Fort Worth and Dallas, only affording legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Chuck Barry little more than a cursory glance or an anecdote.
This myopic documentary reveres these smaller bands with an unprecedented fervor. While passion is a much needed element in the production of any movie, director Melissa Kirkendall’s blinding hero worship of these figures prevents the film from achieving its undeniably great potential. Instead of getting at the heart of the movement, the film is self congratulatory and almost masturbatory in its treatment of these forgotten rock gods. What results is a painfully shallow flashback to days gone by and music that is fondly remembered by some, but largely forgotten by most
However, Teen A Go Go is difficult to characterize as just an 80-minute fangirl’s unadulterated ode to Fort Worth rock. There’s a sort of sadness to this film, as it forces its audience to watch as these men and women fondly reminisce. While they may have been heroes and heroines in their heyday, it is plain to see that these are the types of musicians that rock and roll history has forgotten. Perhaps that is what saves Teen A Go Go from being insufferable. After all, there is a sort of silent suffering that these artists have gone through over the years, from being forgotten to the loss of beloved band members. While Teen A Go Go was certainly frustrating, these people were all together too sad to be deserving of any real scorn. The countless anecdotes and endless descriptions of concerts tested my patience, but it was through no fault of the musicians themselves. The little clips of archive footage illustrate that they were, indeed, talented but the presentation of their talent is too stilted in Teen A Go Go.
Unfortunately, at the end of Teen A Go Go it seems that most of the film’s issues stem from Kirkendall. The incessant fawning over the bands cloud the vision of Teen A Go Go. What could have been a glowing examination of 1960s rock and roll, instead becomes an exercise in excess, which manages to attempt to do too much, resulting in no depth.