After years of working in television, Timothy Scott Bogart returns to feature film with his sophomore effort Spinning Gold. The film is a biopic of Bogart's father, Neil, a legend in the music business. What do Donna Summer, Parliament, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers, The Village People, and Bill Withers all have in common with KISS? They all rose to musical heights under the watchful ear of the music industry's most colorful and brilliant music producer, Neil Bogart.
Neil Bogart (Jeremy Jordan) founded Casablanca Records, the most successful independent record company of all time. Along with a ragtag team of young music lovers, including Cecil Holmes (Jay Pharoah), Joyce Biawitz (Lyndsy Fonseca), Buck Reingold (Dan Folger), and his sister-in-law Nancy Weiss (Peyton List), Neil and Casablanca Records would rewrite history and change the music industry forever. Their mix of creative insanity, total belief in each other, and the music they created shaped our culture and defined a generation.
Performing as their inspiration and singing their most famous songs, today's biggest music stars include Grammy and Golden Globe nominee Wiz Khalifa as George Clinton, Jason Derulo as Ron Isley, Pink Sweat$ as Bill Withers, Grammy nominee Tayla Parx as Donna Summer, and multi-Grammy winner Ledisi as Gladys Knight. The supporting cast features Michelle Monaghan as Neil's wife, Jason Issacs as his father, and Chris Redd as legendary DJ Frankie Crocker.
I heard about Spinning Gold nearly a decade ago when Justin Timberlake was attached to the project. The film spent a few years in development hell but finally arrived on the big screen. Jeremy Jordan, who should be a star by now, shines as Bogart. He takes you through the usual biopic tropes in musical films. The movie effectively narrates Bogart's life as a struggling music producer from his early years. He eventually became a powerful music mogul signing some of the most influential figures in the music business of that era. His adventures into the world of music were buoyed by the complexities of a fiercely competitive industry and the courage of love, driven by his ambition for success and his passion for music. The movie also highlights Bogart's financial and social struggles in pursuing his career.
As for the actors portraying the musical legends, they all deliver the goods, given how small their parts are. There's been much criticism over Jason Derulo and Tayla Parx, but both were good, considering they portray them in younger eras. As for Pink Sweat$ and Ledisi, should we ever get Gladys Knight and Bill Withers biopics, I wouldn't mind seeing these two resume the roles. Music historians will notice some goofs in the film. Considering just how massive Bogart's story is, I can't help but think of a limited series with an episode focused on how each chapter could have been better. And while we get to see some of Bogart's demons on display, I wish the script gave more meat to some of the supporting cast.
Nevertheless, the movie was entertaining and had an inspiring positive message, proving that with persistence, work, and pure determination.
Final Grade: B-
Spinning Gold is in theaters now