Engaging, hilarious and heartbreaking, Beastie Boys Story sucks you in like the opening drum roll of “Shake Your Rump.” Horovitz and Diamond exude a natural charm that oozes through their storytelling, using a combination of silly anecdotes and self-deprecating humor to tell the tale of one of the most influential bands of all time. In addition to their gift of gab, their presentation is peppered with hundreds of clips and images that inject life into each anecdote.The images are from the group’s best selling Beastie Boys Book and the stage show came out of their desire to do an alternative to typical book reading/signing tours.
The group’s evolution from pre-teen punk rockers making crank calls to Carvel ice cream shops to hip-hop loving teenagers making party anthems (that actually poked fun at people who listened to party anthems) into chart-topping superstars is fun to read about and even more engaging to watch in a live setting.
Under the tutelage of Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the band reached success with their first disc, 1986’s License to Ill, but thanks to unchecked egos and unchecked boozing, the trio became the very party boys they despised. After the slow realization of what they had become, the Beastie Boys took a break, regrouped and proceeded to spend the rest of their career doing everything in their power to eradicate the stereotype they created for themselves, as well as push themselves as musicians.
From fresh-faced little shits with gold chains and unearned confidence to party boys on the edge of destruction, the duo walk the audience through their experiences and how their friendship helped them endure. They talk about meeting Kurtis Blow, falling outs with Simmons and Ruben, touring, how their hit records were made and award show moments (the biggest featuring the wacky exploits of Yauch as “Uncle Nathaniel Hornblower”) and their evolving musicality which might have reached its peak with the game-changing bassline that became the opening riff to “Sabotage. The latter two came courtesy of their departed bandmate, who they still get emotional talking about.
More than a romp through late ‘80s and ‘90s musical history, the doc feels like an opportunity for reflection and closure. Horovitz and Diamond take the time to apologize to all those they hurt with their early-20s antics, to recognize their failures and pause to address them, and to make amends for past lapses in judgement. But above all else, they make the experience an acknowledgement of Yauch — the creative force behind the trio. Moving beyond musical biopic, Beastie Boys Story is a loving document to friendship, growth and expression, and how each can inspire the other.