There's certainly a sense of déjà vu to "12-12-12," about the superstorm Sandy relief concert held at Madison Square Garden last year, a benefit mounted hastily, and with remarkably few hiccups, by entertainment machers Harvey Weinstein, John Sykes of Clear Channel and James Dolan of MSG (also chief executive of Cablevision, which owns Newsday). These were the same people who produced the post-9/11 Concert for New York City. The similarities certainly don't end there.
"This is the biggest collection of old English musicians that has ever been on one stage," says Mick Jagger, making the perhaps obvious point that it's been the same gang of Brits who've jumped in every time America has had an ailment and tried to treat it with music. Jagger and Keith Richards played the 9/11 show, as did The Who; Eric Clapton's been showing up at these things since Live Aid in the '80s, as well as the Concert for Bangladesh, back in '71. And Paul McCartney, the centerpiece of "12-12-12" ("I was a Beatle," he whines at one point, in mock dismay), would show up and play at a public school if he thought it would help the city, which is something he recently did.
Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Billy Joel, who in candid moments is hilarious, all play; Bruce Springsteen opens the film, and along the way we hear from comedians Billy Crystal, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, and Roger Waters doing a Pink Floyd medley. There's even a crisis: Weinstein, Dolan and Sykes are stricken when the website taking donations for the Robin Hood Relief Fund can't handle the traffic, so they enlist as troubleshooter Eric Schmidt of Google, who happens to be backstage, too. He solves the problem in about 30 seconds.
There are lots of memorable moments, some involving hurricane victims in Rockaway, Red Hook and Lindenhurst; Joel and McCartney comparing manicures in the dressing room; McCartney playing with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Pete Townshend looking both amused and nervous as Roger Daltrey tries, one more time, to hit the high notes on "Baba O'Reilly."
PLOT The star-studded superstorm Sandy relief concert at Madison Square Garden, onstage and backstage.
RATING R (language)
CAST Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Adam Sandler, Alicia Keys, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Kanye West, Roger Waters
BOTTOM LINE Good-natured, upbeat, pretty predictable account of a concert cast with a lot of the usual suspects.