"If you've ever been a fan of the jam-band scene, and still maintain some intelligence or vestige of sanity, you will vastly enjoy watching this film, again and again. Not for the soundtrack (which includes such classics as Marley, Dire Straits, Phish and Winwood), not for the actors (although there are some good ones), not for the 'authentic' lot-scene ambience. You'll love this movie because it is so unbelievably lame, you will not be able to stop laughing.
From the early scene where Andrew asks Simon what music he listens to, Simon replies "what kind of question is that?" and Andrew declares, "That's only the most important question I could ever ask you," this movie is fully loaded with some of the cheesiest and most hilariously lame moments I have ever seen. Kate Matthews, the world's most unprofessional rehab counselor, flies off the handle with no more provocation than a little junkie 'tude, then laughs at Simon for ending up in rehab. Andrew comes out with lines like "ALWAYS check the hippie pouch," and introduces Simon to guys who blow into conch shells to determine the future. A lot of guys in the movie dance with their arms above their heads, looking like complete idiots. Jennifer and Trace laugh uproariously every time Simon says something naive or stupid, leading me to wonder, was nobody else willing to be their friend before he came along? In this movie, hanging out with someone for two hours makes you a friend for life.
The best character in the movie is Kevin, Simon's "demented friend" who is in a wheelchair and at death's door for reasons that are never explained (outside of Kevin saying "I had WAY too much fun"). He asks Simon about his experience at a concert, Simon replies, "I can't put it into words," and Kevin counters sagely: "You just did." When Kevin starts strumming his guitar, entire drum circles fall silent so he can play original compositions like "I Don't Mind Failing In This World"; creative works that make the Dude of Life seem like Mozart. He abruptly dies when the plot finds it convenient, leaving Simon - who has apparently hung out with him a handful of times - to bear the responsibility of scattering his ashes. Huh?!?
Add to this inexplicable flashbacks-within-flashbacks, the spectre of Simon's mother's death (also never explained; the movie suggests she had WAY too much fun as well), and a series of festivals and concerts during which you NEVER see a band or any musicians at all (except Kevin) and you have a film that will leave you scratching your head in puzzlement and laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of it all.
It's time to open the package!"
THE BEST MOVIES ARE THE LOW-BUDGET ONES (ever notice that?)
controlledsoul | Wherever the music takes me | 08/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has originality and interest. From the beginning you understand what it's all about, at the same time consisting of nothing but curiousity and anticipation. I could swear I saw my relationships in theres. What I enjoyed best about the movie was the time in which it was set, which was the core that made the movie the way it is. With tye dyes and a killer soundtrack in a time of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, it is a no wonder that Simon (devon sawa) became overpowered & gained a 'high' (no pun intended) through the life of no responsibilites and lack of parental control from his already disruptive relationship with his father and stepmother. This movie is "Dazed and Confused" with the sympathy, and "Trapped in a Purple Haze" with the authenticy. Great acting by Tara Reid, who plays Simons girlfriend, and Eric Mabius, who I personally loved in The Crow. The role of an instable boy who is finding his way up the man ladder (through interpersonal relationships and drugs) was a perfect role to a rising star such as Devon Sawa who is as versatile as they come (i hear he is currently attending acting classes to improve his skills; talk about ambition & dedication). 'This movie is a must see if your ready to see a movie set during that incredible time when tempations and pressures from friends overpower the influences of parents and responsibilities.'..."
Eddie Landsberg | 08/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this flick...might I add a great soundtrack and a nice fast moving story line. I thought is was a good movie overall and was glad i bought...being a phish head i have been to many shows and they have really duplicated the scene pretty well on the movie... anyways definitely check it out"
An ABC Afterschool Special for and by Acid Heads !
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 03/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hmmmmm... you kinda get the impression that the makers of this film had some legal problems so they had to drop any reference to the jam band PHISH from the film - - so even though they're following a Phish-like band, with very Phish-like followers listening to very Phish-like music and smoking and dropping Phish-like stuff on a Phish-like scene you don't really hear the word PHISH that much... Whatever the case, I kinda dug the film at first for the music - - lot's of that funky jam stuff... even some Dead, Meters, Bob Marley... then there was the story... and of course you have the emotional tie in... at first this nieve kid liberated from a snobby boarding school making the scene, making friends, experiencing the music and drugs, then getting too deep and turning into this messed up acid head drug dealer at odds with his girlfriend and his Dad and step Mom - - eventually, the story goes from Rock and Roll to ABC after school special but overall its a pretty cool film... and besides, I don't even drop acid, and I've seen colors coming out of water fountain like that too !Thirty some years after THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT, HAIR and BILLY JACK, this is a film for and by the groovy people !"
Wonderful performances by Tara and Devon in a deep film
Eddie Landsberg | 08/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Around The Fire is not your typical teen movie. It deals with one young mans experiences with drugs and his battle within himself to recover. Devon Sawa excellently portrays the young man, who discovers the world of drugs while away at school. While his new found friends can handle casual drug usage, it seems to take over control of his body and mind, and he becomes a totally different person. One of his new friends, Jennifer, a vegi stir-fry cook, brilliantly portrayed by Tara Reid, shows true compassion and love for him, and stands by him and supports, and helps him throughout his endeavours and ordeals, even after he treats her like garbage while the two of them are at his father and stepmother's house for dinner. She once again shows that she is a very talented and diverse actress and can handle the most dramatic roles with flying colours. The soundtrack is very nice and it's nice to watch a movie that actually tells a story, and sort of pulls you in to relate to the characters, and feel for them. At times you feel for Simon, (Devon's character), and at times you think he's a real jerk, especially how he treats Jennifer at dinner, when it's obvious she's only trying to be supportive, and show how much she truly cares for, and about him. It may not be an action packed, sex filled, blockbuster, but it is a very enjoyable, well acted film."