By: Addison Wylie
When you pay for admission to see The Wrecking Crew, a rockin’ doc from Denny Tedesco (son of legendary guitarist Tommy Tedesco), you pay to hear a number of stories from the title band themselves.
The Wrecking Crew was made up of talented musicians who lent their instrumentals to famous musicians like The Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, Cher, and Frank Sinatra. While the singers belted out their momentous lyrics and choruses, Tommy Tedesco and company filled the background accompaniment with all kinds of rhythms, licks, and hum-worthy tunes. Denny’s doc goes from a movie where you try and guess the song The Wrecking Crew played, to a movie where you guess what songs these cats haven’t been involved with. It’s quite an awe-inspiring list of music.
These musicians are some of the most famous people you’ve never met or seen. The Wrecking Crew is a humble group who talk honestly and treat their craft respectably. They’ve made oodles of moolah, but would rather enjoy their riches and memories quietly. It’s this type of attitude that makes the band mysterious and likeable. We enjoy listening to what they have to say, and we especially cling to those candid sequences where a few of the artists reminisce after having not seen each other in years.
The Wrecking Crew has been touring film festivals since 2008, and now it can finally own your time in Toronto during a theatrical run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema beginning on February 20. The rest of the world will be able to catch it on cable, on VOD, and on iTunes in March. Those feeling left out from the theatrical setting shouldn’t fret, however. Tedesco’s documentary may have been better suited for a smaller screen.
What hurts The Wrecking Crew is how the filmmaker has approached the documentary genre in a derivative manner. I don’t mind the film resembling an extended VH1 special, but when you boil down the film to its basic structure, The Wrecking Crew mostly consists of talking heads and brash textual slides.
What’s impressive is the filmmaker’s collection of material. He’s catalogued lots of timeworn footage and captured raw audio of rehearsals. A brief one-on-one with an alive and healthy Dick Clark gushing about the acclaimed band reveals just how long the doc has been in the shop for. There are featured rare clips and opinions in The Wrecking Crew that you won’t be able to hear anywhere else. That alone will have music lovers sucked in.
Denny Tedesco has a personal connection to his documentary, but he stops from making the film too close for comfort. He treats the careers and stories with passion and professionalism. It’s true movie goers saw a better version of this type of film in 2013 with Muscle Shoals, but The Wrecking Crew is adequate enough to squeak by.