AIR GUITAR NATION directed by Alexandra Lipsitz, with Dan Crane, David S. Jung and Gordon Hintz. A Maple Pictures release. 81 minutes. Opens Friday (March 23). For venues and times, see Movies, page 89. Rating: NN
In any other context and at any other time, the Dan Crane sitting across from me sipping herbal tea with honey would be plain old Dan Crane.
But Dan Crane, the former educational software developer, is on hiatus. The dude sitting before me with the crazy pants, dishevelled hair and two days' worth of stubble is, in some circles anyway, a legend. This is Crane's alter ego, the one and only Björn Türoque, subject and star of the new documentary Air Guitar Nation.
"Star" might be a slight misnomer and overstatement; workhorse would be a better term. Although Türoque's never officially won the American championship title, he keeps popping up in the doc, re-entering the big international competitions. He's become a spokesperson for the U.S. Air Guitar Championships.
"I've competed in 11 international competitions and written a book about the subject, so you'd think that I've become completely obsessed with it. But you can take a lot of things too seriously. People can go to work every day and sit at a desk and grind their souls away doing whatever they do. To me, that's much worse than taking air guitar seriously."
The classic Heart tune Magic Man is blasting over the café's speakers and I'm trying to grasp whether I'm dealing with a guy who's taking the piss or with someone whose stage persona has actually eclipsed the film he's supposed to be promoting. Maybe after stroking his air-rock-star ego a bit, we'll get to discuss the documentary. The buzz around the film came with some genuine rock-star perks, making Türoque giggle like a schoolboy who's just stolen the communion wine.
"I definitely got laid," he says. "There are air groupies. You get the perks of rock 'n' roll without the gear to load. I've been on the Carson Daly Show, on Conan. I've met amazing people from around the world. You always have a friend in air guitar. Air guitar is forever."
Türoque's lavish sex- and booze-filled lifestyle grew out of his original appearance at the world air guitar championships held annually in Finland - also the locale of the doc's grand finale. It was there that he learned he wasn't the only dude on earth who thought about air guitar as a bona fide career choice.
"The Finns have a very strange sense of humour - they're a very weird people. I think they're in on the joke but they won't laugh about it. They're much more deadpan, like the Charles Grodin nation of Scandinavia."
Türoque is full of advice on what makes a good air guitarist, how to pick an appropriate song and how to rock it. (He insists beer helps.) I poke fun at him by asking if he's got an air guitar tattoo, and he nods his head and lifts his shirt to reveal nothing.
On the subject of a real guitar legend, he becomes a tad arrogant.
"I think Eddie [Van Halen]'s kind of old, and he's also in rehab. I'd kick his ass. I will kick your ass, Eddie! Look out."
AIR GUITAR NATION (Alexandra Lipsitz) Rating: NN
Though a doc on America's fixation with air guitar competitions may sound promising, your anticipation turns out to be the most exciting thing about it, when you're thinking, "Man, this must be hilarious."
It's not. But it is an occasionally amusing look at a pastime fuelled more by beer than by genuine passion.
Main doc subjects/competitors Dan Crane and David Jung, who travel to Finland for the big showdown, ham it up - a lot. But aside from a few good interviews, the film barely connects with the people involved. There certainly aren't enough laughs to sustain it either.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
Türoque discusses how entertaining air guitar is to watch
What makes a good air guitarist ?
Türoque on his arch nemesis, C-Diddy