Ever since the classic This Is Spinal Tap, mockumentaries have frequently chosen pop musicians as their subject matter. Just as far as films I happen to have written about, there’s Brothers of the Head, The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, and now Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee, plus there are many other such music mockumentaries that I’ve never seen.
Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee is from director Shane Meadows. I had previously seen two Meadows films: This Is England, which I liked a lot, probably in my top 10% favorites of the movies I’ve written about, and Dead Man’s Shoes, which didn’t do much for me. But on the strength of the terrific This Is England alone I’m open to seeing his other movies.
Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee is certainly nothing like either of the aforementioned films, which are violent, intense dramas. It’s a very, very low budget comedy, reportedly shot in just five days.
The premise of the film is that Le Donk is a once-prominent pop star now on the downside of his career, but I guess still prominent enough that someone like Shane Meadows would want to do a documentary on him.
Even that much is not entirely clear (and the further plot details are mostly even less clear to me). I’ve seen Le Donk referred to in multiple reviews as a “roadie,” but I thought a roadie was like an assistant to a touring band that helps set up and break down equipment and such, whereas I certainly get the impression he’s a musician himself.
Anyway, I’ll continue, with the understanding that this is just my take on who the characters are and what they’re doing in the film, where I could certainly be wrong about some of it.
Le Donk is now scheduled to be the opening act for the Arctic Monkeys (evidently a real band) at some kind of major concert or music festival. This is a big deal for him, since judging from what he says, even at his peak—however high his peak was—he never played before an audience of the size anticipated for this event. He doesn’t seem to resent being an opening act, as I guess that’s the best he can hope for at this stage of his career.
I never got a sense for what kind of musician he was; I guess whatever pop music was popular in England a decade earlier or whenever he was somebody.
Meanwhile, he has taken under his wing a white rapper he has discovered who calls himself “Scor-zay-zee” (obviously based on Martin Scorsese, though I don’t recall it being stated why he chose that name or what the connection is). Scor-zay-zee, by the way, is apparently also an actual rapper who goes by that name in real life. Le Donk has arranged, or is trying to arrange, for Scor-zay-zee to also be able to perform at this event.
Mostly he’s friendly and supportive of Scor-zay-zee and feels good about trying to get him his big break this way, but there’s the potential for a bit of rivalry or resentment if he somehow gets bigger than Le Donk himself, evidenced by the fact that early in the film he’s alarmed that a documentary that is supposed to be about him seems to be focusing disproportionately on his protégé.
The film follows Le Donk around for the last few days before this event, which includes some interactions with an ex-girlfriend who is about to give birth to his child.
Le Donk is kind of a dopey loser type, full of bluster (he turns a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend’s current beau into a literal boasting match about dick size), but mostly a decent bloke. Obviously the character, and the film as a whole, are intended primarily as comedy, but he’s more realistic than not. (Le Donk is played by Paddy Considine, who is really good at walking that fine line where the character is fit to be laughed at yet sympathetic at the same time.) This doesn’t feel like This Is Spinal Tap, which really is just a series of (often hilarious) gags. I’m not saying you’d mistake this for an actual documentary, but it’s certainly closer to that kind of realism.
I know viewers have not uncommonly taken This Is Spinal Tap itself to be a legitimate documentary about a real band, but only really, really dumb viewers. You’d only have to be really dumb, or maybe even regular dumb, to make that mistake with Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee.
I had trouble getting into this film most of the way. It’s meandering and dull for significant stretches. I lost a bit of dialogue here and there due to the accents (which I’m sure is why I’m fuzzy on some of the details). There are a few laughs, but for me neither in quantity nor quality did those laughs come close to matching, say, the humor of This Is Spinal Tap.
I wonder if a fair amount of it is sort of inside humor, or the kind of thing you’re more likely to appreciate if you’re more knowledgeable than I about the pop music scene, England, or preferably both.
Scor-zay-zee himself is kind of a quiet, maybe shy, not very articulate fellow. Maybe that’s part of the humor, that a rapper, presumably so dependent on the spoken word, has so little of significance to say.
Though my mind was wandering at times, and I didn’t feel very connected to the film, toward the end I felt like it had somehow won me over to an extent after all. As I alluded to, Le Donk is a mostly likable fellow, and that becomes even more true as the film winds down and he shows himself capable of greater honesty and humility in his self-assessment, manifests love for his new baby (albeit in a goofy, awkward way), and more fully embraces and supports Scor-zay-zee.
I find that in retrospect I have kind of a warm feeling about Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, out of proportion to the quite modest degree to which I actually enjoyed it while I was watching it.