Combustible Celluloid
With: Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), Michael Diamond (Mike D.)
Written by: Spike Jonze, Adam Horovitz, Michael Diamond
Directed by: Spike Jonze
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 119
Date: 04/24/2020

Beastie Boys Story (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Passing the Mic

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Following their bestselling and highly entertaining Beastie Boys Book, Michael Diamond (Mike D.) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) took to the stage to do a live, slide-show version of their story. Director Spike Jonze (who made the band's great Sabotage music video in 1994) filmed what appears to be the last of these (although there are clips from other shows) and turned it into a feature-length documentary; Beastie Boys Story was meant to be shown in theaters, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is debuting exclusively on Apple TV+. As my brother so aptly put it, it's like a TED Talk, with Mike and Adam sharing the stage, trading lines (there are jokes about their use of a teleprompter), while slides and videos play on the screen behind them. Jonzes's camera moves about, but never gets so busy that it distracts from the main event. Mistakes are allowed to creep in, and Jonze's voice can be heard apologizing from the back of the auditorium. As in the book, quite a lot of the stories are about singing the praises of the late, great Adam Yauch (MCA), who sadly died from cancer in 2012 at the age of 47. He was, according to his friends, a genius, innovator, considerate, curious, and a mystery. The best thing about Beastie Boys Story is the way the musicians are allowed to change and grow. The making of 1986's License to Ill is exciting and fresh, but later, they are allowed to regret some of their choices, and to learn from the experience. It's unlikely that non-Beastie fans will get much out of this, but fans will enjoy every moment of it. Apparently, Bill Hader provides the voice of the "crazy shit" title card that comes up. Watch to the very end for a few other little surprise appearances.

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