Movie Review - Hype
'Hype!' documents rise, fall of Seattle's grunge empire

Eddie Vedder in Hype BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It came to be known as ''grunge,'' although the people who invented it learned to hate that word.

They also learned to hate the overheated, superficial, commercialized monster that arose out of a genuine, home-grown cultural phenomenon in the city of Seattle.

The whole sordid story, or most of it, is the subject of Hype!, a documentary about the the birth, growth and death-by-exposure of Seattle's rock 'n' roll legacy, from filmmaker Doug Pray and his producer-buddy Steven Helvey.

Made in a stripped-down, unpretentious style, the movie gleefully captures the loud, chaotic, rude, funny, angry, irreverent, largely homemade spirit that fueled a creative explosion in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s.

The movie, while weighted toward talking-head interviews, includes tantalizing performances -- including a rare and barely legible film of Nirvana performing ''Smells Like Teen Spirit'' for the first time.

Among those interviewed are a few big stars -- Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden's Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron. But most intriguing are the Seattle-area producers, writers, artists and bands -- The Melvins, Mudhoney, 7 year Bitch and a couple dozen more -- who made the music that grabbed the attention of the world.

Then they watched in dismay and disbelief as magazines, television, and merchants of all stripes co-opted their music, art style, even clothing (''We wear long johns 'cause it's cold up here!'' one musician wails).

Huge money and huge attention changed everything, one witness testifies, but nothing can kill the hunger for subversion that lives in teen-agers with electric guitars. Something else, he promises, will come along.

Meanwhile, Hype! is an energizing dive into a strange, strange slice of rock history.

(R; language) Eddie Vedder, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron. 84 minutes. At The Movies.