Sunday, February 20, 2000

'2Gether' delightful spoof of boy bands

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The guys in Cincinnati's 98` may not be laughing, but the rest of us will be.

        MTV skewers pop music's “boy bands” with a delicious musical satire, 2Gether, premiering 8 p.m. Monday.

        The music channel's first made-for-TV movie lampoons the costumes, choreography, camaraderie and carbonated lyrics seen around the clock on the channel.

        “Girl, no subject comes close to you,” sing the 2Gether guys. “I know my calculus. It says You + Me = Us.”

        Then they launch into their “Calculus” dance routine, pointing to the audience of screaming young girls: “You! — Plus sign! — Me! — Equals sign! — Us!”

        First-time screenwriters Mark and Brian Gunn, and award-winning music video director Nigel Dick (Cher's “Believe,” Britney Spears' “Baby One More Time”) deliver a gem, in the fine tradition of This is Spinal Tap, The Monkees, Weird Al Yankovic or the Saturday Night Live parodies of Frank Sinatra, Joe Cocker and Ray Charles. @subhed Mockumentary

        The mockumentary opens with legendary music producer Bob Buss (Alan Blumenfeld) being fired by the popular boy band Whoa!, as their hit song “Rub One Out” continues to top Carson Daly's Total Request Live MTV poll. The backstreet wannabes don't need Mr. Buss anymore, now that millions of teen-age girls screamevery time they sing:

        “Rub one out, hey, don't be shy. Rub one out, girl, don't ask why.”

        So Mr. Buss — that musical maven who discovered the Johnson 5 and The 5th Unit — vows to assemble a rival boy band. He scours the back streets, karaoke bars and male beauty pageants to find some new kids on the block.

        “There are five basic types in every successful boy band,” he explains.

        “You've got your bad boy or rebel; your shy bashful type; your little, dewy-eyed youngster; your reassuring older brother type,” he says.

        “And you've got your heartthrob, your teen idol, the one who holds it all together. He's the one whose eyes are looking at you from the poster saying, "Hold me. Take care of me.'” @subhed Creative genius

        He rounds up sexy, clean-cut Jerry (Evan Farmer); Mickey the street hood (Alex Solowitz); a real cutie named “QT,” or Jason (Michael Cuccione); shy Chad (Noah Bastian) and his older brother, Doug (Kevin Farley, brother of the late SNL comedian Chris Farley).

        Locked in a motel conference room, Mr. Buss molds the musical misfits 2Gether by drilling them on their music, mannerisms and marketing aimed at impressionable prepubescent girls.

        The movie's motel montage is a hoot. The guys rehearse routines by following dance steps glued to the carpet. They try a hilarious variety of costumes — ugly 1970s red-white-and-blue leisure suits; loin cloths; hip boots and red suspenders; baseball uniforms with full catcher's gear; and yellow decontamination suits apparently borrowed from Devo.

        They practice ducking teddy bears flung by adoring fans. And they prepare to answer questions from teen fan magazines like Boy Crazy or Generation Excellence.

        What's your favorite kind of girl? “She doesn't need to be a knockout, just someone with a nice personality, who makes me laugh,” Jerry replies after hours of coaching.

        After two days, they're finally 'n sync on the lyrics to their first single: “Say it, don't spray it. I want the news, not the weather.” @subhed Kernel of truth

        They became so accomplished onstage that MTV has released a CD with 10 songs from the film written by the Gunn cousins, Mr. Dick and collaborators. The 2Gether guys sang their own vocals, Mr. Farley says.

        “Our music — the beat and everything — is really good. And then we have very crazy, funny lyrics,” says the actor, 34, who has had bit parts on 3rd Rock from the Sun and That '70s Show.

        Mr. Farley, whose ample belly will remind viewers of his older brother, prepared for 2Gether by watching hours and hours of Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98` videos on MTV. He even rented a 98` video.

        “I looked at all of those guys, how they acted and how they performed, and to see how they dressed,” he says.

        Although 2Gether is a spoof, there appears to be a kernel of truth in the story, he says.

        “All of them are very serious about what they do. They're good pals. They all come from different backgrounds, as in the movie,” he says.

        “They're very sincere guys who really want to entertain. Who wouldn't want to do this? When you're 18 years old, who wouldn't want to have a bunch of money, travel the world and have chicks falling all over you?”

        He hopes 'N Sync, 98` and the Backstreet Boys have a sense of humor when they watch 2Gether.

        “Hopefully they won't be too angry at it,” he says. “We're not doing anything really mean-spirited. This is actually sort of a tribute to them, in a funny way.”

        In a very, very funny way.

        As the 2Gether guys sing:

        “Your algebra and trigonometry, can never equal up to what you do to me.

        “When it comes to cosines, I know a thing or two. And I pass all the tests about me and you. I know my calculus!”

        It's a great formula for laughs.

        John Kiesewetter is Enquirer TV/radio critic. Write: 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax: 768-8330.

        ON THE AIR

        What: 2Gether

        When: Premieres 8-9:30 p.m. Monday commercial-free on MTV

        Repeats: 4:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 1 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. next Sunday on MTV.


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