Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll | Chicago Reader

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll

It's almost impossible to imagine an uninteresting film about Chuck Berry, but Taylor Hackford's 1987 documentary takes a stab at being one. There are, to be sure, some very enjoyable sequences—such as a three-way conversation between Berry, Bo Diddley, and Little Richard—but a good deal of this film is devoted to a 60th-birthday concert for Berry that pairs him with Linda Ronstadt, Julian Lennon, Etta James, and others and tends to reduce him to a show-biz icon, the George Jessel of rock. What one misses most of all are some glimpses of the earlier Chuck Berry, when the intensity of his music and his jackrabbit moves had more satanic majesty; too much of this film shows him at half-throttle. PG, 120 min.

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