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Girls Rock!

Published: Friday, June 13 2008 11:25 a.m. MDT

GIRLS ROCK! — *** — Documentary feature about an all-girl, rock 'n' roll band camp; rated PG (profanity, brief drugs, vulgarity, violence, nude artwork)

The documentary "Girls Rock!" tries to prove that females really can rock every bit as hard as their male counterparts. But at times the movie tries a little too hard to do that.

Maybe it's because there's been an increased interest in female pop and rock acts in recent years, and the film feels a responsibility to explain why that is. Or perhaps it's because filmmakers Arne Johnson and Shane King are men instead of women and are trying to compensate for that just a bit.

Also, there is a slightly patronizing flavor to portions of this mostly enjoyable film. But the interview subjects are very likable and charismatic, which certainly helps.

Co-directors Johnson and King look at the annual Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. The weeklong empowerment seminar of sorts takes place in the Pacific Northwest, though the campers — ages 8-18 — do come from all around the country.

Regardless of their skill levels, the girls have a week to learn an instrument as best they can, to join one of the many camp bands, and then help write a song that they'll perform in front of the other campers and a crowd of hundreds.

Four particular girls are spotlighted. There's Misty, a teenager who's overcome some extremely trying circumstances — both of her parents were drug addicts, and she's struggled with her own substance abuse issues.

And metal fan Laura was born in Korea but was adopted by an American family and has a poor self-image and low self-esteem.

Meanwhile, the much-younger Palace is busy practicing her banshee wail and Amelia butts heads with her band mates over their musical direction.

Johnson and King try to spruce up this low-budget affair by throwing in some overly busy graphics. That includes a series of little "factoids," as well as a couple of quick potshots at Britney Spears and her ilk.

But the film is at its best when it lets the girls speak for themselves, and once we finally get to see them perform.

"Girls Rock!" is rated PG for scattered profanity, some of its fairly mild, brief drug references (substance abuse discussions), some suggestive language and lyrics, some brief violence (a band scuffle and some self-defense lessons), and glimpses of nude drawings. Running time: 90 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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