You might remember the 1980 film "Roadie," a party-hearty comedy featuring Meat Loaf as a lowly gear-humper trying to bed a groupie before she beds Alice Cooper. The film's leering tagline read like a bumper sticker: "Bands make it rock. . . . Roadies make it roll!"
But what happens when the tour ends and the vans stop a-rockin'? That's where the 2012 film "Roadie" begins.
Ron Eldard plays the unglamorous title character, Jimmy Testagross, who after two decades working for Long Island's Blue Oyster Cult (heard but never seen) finds himself left at the curb. His pension: a wardrobe of black concert tees and a concession-stand beer gut. After slinking back home to Forest Hills, Queens, and crashing with his elderly mother (Lois Smith), Jimmy begins puffing himself up by telling old friends he's a successful manager.
There isn't much more to the story in "Roadie," but the hugely sympathetic Eldard ("Super 8") gives this slim movie a real, beating heart. He's terrific as a bearish, rough-edged type who still has the wounded eyes of an insecure teenager. When Jimmy's old girlfriend, Nikki (Jill Hennessy), comes up to his bedroom and pulls out a vinyl platter from local heroes the Good Rats, his face lights up with puppy love. (Too bad she's married to Jimmy's old tormentor, Randy, played by an excellent Bobby Cannavale.) In one incidental but moving scene, Jimmy lies on his bed and plays a yearning air guitar to Robin Trower's "Long Misty Days."
Compared to "Young Adult," another current release about grand dreams and hard realities, "Roadie" feels somewhat limited and single-layered. But the movie's Dix Hills-raised filmmakers -- director Michael Cuesta wrote the script with his brother, Gerald -- understand exactly what it means to believe too deeply in rock and roll. The soundtrack, full of underdog bands and coulda-beens, just about says it all.
PLOT Kicked off the latest Blue Oyster Cult tour, a lifelong roadie returns home to Queens. RATING R (language, drug use)
PLAYING AT Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington
BOTTOM LINE A strong performance from Eldard gives some extra heft to this slightly built drama.