Do It Again
Working out the Kinks: One man’s bold, quixotic quest to reunite epic band
Demented quests have driven people to climb mountains, tilt at windmills, and track down drinking vessels used by religious super heroes. Likewise, compulsive fans camp out for days to score concert tickets, and linger till 3 a.m. to glimpse stars slinking into their tour buses.
In the documentary “Do It Again,’’ Globe reporter and wannabe rocker Geoff Edgers joins this kindred fellowship of the obsessed. Close to his 40th birthday, with salary cuts looming at the newspaper (it’s 2009) and a desire to “do something great’’ making him restless, Edgers embarks on a journey larger than himself.
What is his quest? To reunite his idols, the influential British Invasion group the Kinks. His Holy Grail? To get cofounders Ray and Dave Davies to play together for the first time since 1996.
The obstacle in this odyssey is that the brothers, now in their 60s, are at war. In a telling early TV interview, Ray is seen deadpanning, “We keep together through hate.’’ Today, the brothers Davies don’t even speak.
Upping the ante, our protagonist’s family has its doubts. Edgers’s wife seems resigned to the idea, though she warns, “You can’t lose your job, Geoff.’’ His young daughter throws down the gauntlet: If you fail, Daddy, you owe me a lobster dinner.
Nonetheless, armed with his investigative skills (and, it seems, some not insignificant music biz connections), Edgers embarks on a campaign to get as many musicians as possible to attest, on camera, to the Kinks’ influence. David Lee Roth and Elvis Costello reject the idea. Edgers asks Warren Zanes, of legendary Boston band the Del Fuegos fame, if he should attempt the reunion. “I think it’s a misstep,’’ Zanes quips. (One wonders if Warren resents brother Dan’s ascendancy to children’s music superstardom.)
Eventually, Edgers tracks down many of the band’s surviving members — a revolving door of keyboardists, drummers, and bassists — as well as former managers and record moguls. Astonishingly, he gets heavy hitters like Zooey Deschanel, Peter Buck (of R.E.M.), and Robyn Hitchcock to jam with him. In one marvelous sequence, Edgers plays “You Really Got Me’’ backstage with Sting, who knows something about why bands don’t stay together. “People evolve at different speeds,’’ Sting says.
Edgers’s dedication/desperation is often charming. He’s seen on the Boston Common, teaching strangers how to strum “Lola.’’ When he takes his quest to the UK, he busks in Hyde Park, in the rain. That said, our hero’s excessive screen time is also a liability. We get footage of Edgers driving his car, Edgers cleaning the gutters, Edgers pacing the floorboards of his house. Edgers has a strong personality and at times, that presence feels self-conscious, playing to the camera. Rather than letting events unfold quietly, he offers hyped commentary of the “Here I am in my hotel room and here’s how I feel’’ variety. The desire to manufacture drama can trump the arc of Edgers’s quest.
But with music-savvy Robert Patton-Spruill (“Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome’’) behind the camera, and editor Brad Allen Wilde blending various grades of footage — archival, fresh, and staged interviews — the filmmakers inject “Do It Again’’ with a likable and genuine guerilla rawness.
To reveal whether Edgers gets his man (or men) would be unkind. But suffice it to say, the film delivers a surprising payoff, pleasing not only Kinks fans, but all rock fans.
“Do It Again’’ also reminds us that time can’t heal all wounds, nor do midlife crises necessarily transform us. As Warren Zanes wisely says, “We are who we were then.’’
Ethan Gilsdorf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.