Gimme Danger

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Gimme Danger Movie Poster Image
Music docu is mainly a fan film; drugs, lots of cursing.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Demonstrates that some of the most innovative people are sometimes not appreciated until much later; is it worth the trouble, then, to try to do something new? The movie also includes some drug use, but on the whole it's not glamorized.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Iggy Pop shown as an incredibly smart musician who understands music and how it ought to sound, and is forthcoming about what influenced him. He has worked hard for a very long time and has achieved a kind of legend. But he's also depicted as an early "punk," reckless and foolish when it comes to onstage behavior and drugs, although he's apparently clean in the present day. (He acknowledges his mistakes.) He also remains something of an original, refusing to be defined by any labels such as "punk." ("I just wanna be.")

Violence

Fall from stage. Blood on Iggy's chest. Mention of a fan throwing a bottle at Iggy's head. Description of fighting in a biker bar. Story about school bullies. Band members die.

Sex

A semi-topless woman banging gong (she wears an unbuttoned vest). Shirtless Iggy, dancing suggestively. Suggestive photo of a man kissing a woman's backside. Brief description of a woman's sex appeal ("delicious, creamy, female dream thing"). Naked male butt.

Language

Uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "c--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "butt," and middle-finger gestures.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Images of pot smoking. Mention of "smoking a big joint," mentions of psychotics, LSD, "coke," speed, heroin, etc. Mention of methadone. Image of a marijuana plant. Cigarette and cigar smoking. Mentions of drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gimme Danger is a documentary about the legendary, influential "punk rock" band the Stooges, led by Iggy Pop. Iggy appears here under his real name, James Osterberg. It's mainly a fan film, appealing to those that are already in the club, but newcomers may find much to enjoy here as well. There are stories about violent concerts, stage diving, and fights in biker bars, with images of a bloody chest. The deaths of original band members are dealt with. Iggy dances shirtless, and suggestively, and there is some brief, sexually suggestive imagery and dialogue. Language is fairly strong, with a few uses of "f--k" and "motherf----r," plus "c--k," "s--t," and other words. There are several mentions of drug use, including pot, LSD, cocaine, speed, and heroin, as well as cigarette smoking and drinking; pot is briefly shown.

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What's the story?

In GIMME DANGER, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch sits down with James Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop, to discuss Pop's first band the Stooges. Iggy practiced drums in his parents' trailer, moved from place to place, and played the blues with Chicago musicians. He talks about his influences, from discordant jazz to the kids' TV show Soupy Sales, who encouraged kids to write with as few words as possible. He eventually formed his own band with bassist Dave Alexander, guitarist Ron Asheton, and drummer Scott Asheton. Their three albums sold poorly and their chaotic shows quickly took a toll. The band broke up, but their legacy continued, and their music influenced generations of rock bands. In 2003, bassist Mike Watt began the first steps of what would become a Stooges reunion, and this time, the band played for far more appreciative fans.

Is it any good?

In this documentary, director Jim Jarmusch calls the Stooges "the greatest rock 'n' roll band, ever." Though he doesn't exactly support his claim, he does at least create an entertaining tribute. Gimme Danger certainly could have been more "punk rock," a little less polished and familiar. It relies on all those old staples like talking heads, photos, archive footage, and funny little animations. The documentary does correctly illustrate the wide-ranging influence the Stooges had (from the Sex Pistols to Nirvana and the White Stripes), and the many music clips speak for themselves.

But it turns out that the movie's best asset is Iggy Pop himself. While a band as raw and loose as the Stooges (two of their songs are "Raw Power" and "Loose") may appear to have come about by accident, Iggy reveals that he is a canny musician and artist. It's fascinating to hear about all his influences, from Chicago blues to discordant jazz to kids' TV shows like Howdy Doody and Soupy Sales. When he describes the making of certain songs, he describes them with great knowledge and feeling, suggesting that great thought and preparation went into each explosive track. Iggy is a wonderful storyteller, and it would have been fun to listen to him for hours more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Gimme Danger's depiction of violence. How much is shown and how much is described? Do these events seem more dangerous given that they happened in real life?

  • How are drugs and alcohol portrayed? Are they glamorized? Do they look cool? Are there (or were there) consequences?

  • Did you know who Iggy Pop or the Stooges were before seeing this? Do you appreciate them more? Less? Why?

  • What is it about the Stooges' music that was so difficult at first, but then gained so many fans later? What else can you think of that took a long time to catch on?

  • Is Iggy Pop a good role model for kids or teens hoping to play music? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love music

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