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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 42.11%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 2.63%
Sucks: 2.63%

2 reviews, 26 user ratings

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It's All Gone Pete Tong
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by Brian McKay

"A Deaf D.J.? Next thing you’ll tell me a blind man can play piano"
4 stars

Although Pete Tong isn’t a household name around the world, it’s a name that should be familiar to anyone who’s into the House or Trance scene (known more commonly as Techno). Tong’s been a prominent D.J. and driving force on the music scene for over a decade, reaching out to listeners all over the UK (and worldwide via internet broadcast) with weekly shows like “The Essential Mix” and “Essential Selections” on BBC’s Radio One. Ironically, though, he appears for less than a minute of screen time in the film that bears his name, because this is not his story.

Now that you’re probably confused, perhaps a bit of an explanation about the title is in order. The expression “It’s all gone Pete Tong” is derived from a rhyming Cockney slang, i.e. “I need some Benny Hills” for “I need some pills”. In this case, “It’s all gone Pete Tong” is synonymous with “It’s all gone wrong” – which is exactly what happened to the subject of the film, “Superstar” D.J. Frankie Wilde, who dominated the charts and the clubs in Ibiza, Spain (the Mecca of the house music club scene) before a congenital ear defect, combined with years of loud music and fast living, robbed him of his hearing practically overnight.

Played with exuberance by Paul Kaye, Wilde is portrayed as a D.J. with true Rock Star status who is at the top of his career. Whether playing mixes to a club full of thousands who chant his name, putting together an album in the studio with a pair of Austrian musicians who make the boys in Spinal Tap look like a barbershop quartet, or hanging out in his luxurious Spanish villa with his religiously non-monogamous wife Sonja (Kate Magowan) Wilde’s life is an exercise in arrogance and excess with plenty of loose women, fast living, and lots and lots (and lots) of drugs. Envious? Me too!

Perhaps we shouldn’t be, however, since all excess comes with a hefty price tag. In Wilde’s case, that price is the complete loss of his hearing. His wife promises to stand by him no matter what, then predictably leaves him for another man the moment it becomes clear that he will no longer be able to produce music or gig at clubs (in other words, make money). Likewise, his sleazy manager Max (Mike Wilmot) makes no effort to help, since Wilde has ceased to be a cash cow. Abandoned by all, Wilde secludes himself in his Villa for nearly a year, his only human contact being with the people who deliver his food and his drugs. It is during this time that he repeatedly comes face to face with his addiction, which is personified by a six-foot-tall rabid badger wearing a filthy fairy costume that looks like it was stolen from a homeless woman. Whenever Wilde tries to fight the urge to snort a line, the “coke badger” is there to angrily shove white powder in his face.

It’s scenes like the ones featuring the coke badger, or the in-studio antics with the duo of insane Austrians, that give IAGPT its share of humorous moments. At times it’s so over-the-top that it threatens to plunge the entire film into the realm of mockumentary, as does Kaye’s often manic portrayal of Wilde. But Kaye also injects the raving persona of Wilde with humanity and pathos, rendering an intriguing tragic figure. Interviews with real-life D.J.’s sprinkled throughout the film also keep it grounded in reality, serving to remind us that Frankie Wilde was indeed a real person. Even after the loss of his hearing (and his year of self-imposed exile), Wilde maintains his trademark sense of humor and decides to kick all of the drugs and cope with his situation by learning how to read lips. He enlists the aid of a specialist, a deaf woman named Penelope (Beatriz Batarda), who becomes his mentor, friend, and eventually, lover. With her help, he not only learns how to read lips, but to mix music again by beat-matching via vibrations. When he delivers a devastatingly good CD to Max, one that is produced entirely after Wilde’s hearing loss, he is poised to return to the limelight and regain all of his lost fame. But as his record label markets him as “The Deaf D.J.”, focusing more on his disability than his music, he finds that the price for his regained fame may be even higher than that exacted by his former excessive lifestyle.

While IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG is an intriguing look at the rise, fall, and rebirth of a house music legend, it does lack a certain depth that could have been alleviated by more insight into Wilde’s background and rise to stardom. As it stands, we know little about Wilde’s character going in. We are introduced to him at the height of his popularity, just before the fall, and since he initially comes across as an obnoxious raving cokehead who is as intoxicated as much by his own fame than by all the drugs, it’s hard to establish a genuine interest or feeling of sympathy for him until the film’s halfway point. Some greater insight into how he influenced the music scene and the events leading up to his rock star status would have given us a more complete picture of who Wilde was behind the coke-induced haze he stumbles through the first half of the movie in. Another problem, on the production side, is that the sound is wildly uneven. Music is loud and blaring, while dialogue is often faint or muffled and indistinct. This makes for an aggravating game of “Volume up, Volume down” throughout much of the film.

Quibbles aside, Frankie Wilde’s ride is a wild one indeed, and IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG manages to capture the essence of both his madness and genius - even if at times it feels a little light on the details that surrounded both.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10472&reviewer=258
originally posted: 04/11/05 13:49:24
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. For more in the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Film. 5 stars
8/16/07 dj lo pro dope movie 5 stars
8/12/07 d dianna cant belive this movie was fiction. one of the best movies ever! 5 stars
4/10/07 Fred This movie gives me reason to quit drugs 5 stars
11/15/06 baby cobra I loved every fucking second of it 5 stars
7/27/06 Adrian Kalalian Theres just something about it.....I can' stop watching it! The acting is also flawless. 5 stars
10/24/05 Super K This one is definitely worth a look. At times, it's a bit rough, but it is a fun ride! 5 stars
9/14/05 Caiphn Great fucking movie! Didn't expect the last 1/2 of the film, recommend it to anyone. 5 stars
7/20/05 JK Smith A slice of life worth watching 4 stars
6/02/05 DJN Great 5 stars
5/30/05 Trancey Spacer Techno is not another name fot house/trance, its a completely different form of music. Sham 5 stars
4/23/05 JP SHIELDS AMAZING! 5 stars
4/21/05 jill amazing 5 stars
4/13/05 nora Castillo wow the music was wow 5 stars
4/13/05 diango equeco 5 stars
4/12/05 Alan Lansky Packed screening at Gen Art. Music was deafening. Cant wait for the soundtrack. 5 stars
2/15/05 Robert Forester Interesting film, some incredible editing. Not that funny though. 4 stars
1/31/05 Jorge Valenzuela Paul Kaye gives an incredible performance 4 stars
1/04/05 Roger Colpe Good music in at best an uneven movie 2 stars
12/08/04 Indonesia YOu've got to be kidding 1 stars
10/07/04 Magdalena Visually awesome! Toronto's Q&A worth the stay, SOUNDTRACK out in march'05. 5 stars
9/15/04 FatC Funny, dark edgy rollercoaster ride 5 stars
9/14/04 pm Wickedly funny, deliciously devilish 5 stars
9/13/04 Scott Wright Light hearted, loved the badger! 4 stars
9/07/04 MM High-larious! 5 stars
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  15-Apr-2005 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jan-2013



Directed by
  Michael Dowse

Written by
  Michael Dowse

  Paul Kaye
  Mike Wilmot
  Beatriz Batarda
  Kate Magowan
  Pete Tong
  Steve Oram

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