There’s a lovingly ramshackle quality and wealth of can-do spirit that permeates the low budgeted musical comedy period piece Eternity: The Movie. This tale of a pair of doofus musicians that make it big in the 1980s white boy R&B scene constantly elicits smiles, if not always huge guffaws, with a gentle blend of inspired silliness, ingenuity, and period detail.
Feathery blonde headed Todd Lucas (Barrett Crake) has just made his way to Southern California by way of Omaha to hopefully jump start his career as a singer-songwriter. He takes a dead end job at a department store where he meets a macho, mustachioed slacker named B.J. Fairchild (Myko Olivier) who immediately starts crashing on Todd’s couch the very day they meet. Unlucky in love and lust (mostly because he seems oblivious to what either means), Todd’s emotional songwriting and B.J.’s testosterone driven saxophone skills lead to them creating the two man band, Eternity. But when their first song “Make Love, Not Just Sex” proves to be a huge hit, the pressure is on the friends to complete an actual album to propel their careers further.
Director Ian Thorpe and his writing team clearly have a major love for the era, which manifests itself not only in the design of the film, but in clever sight gags like bars that advertise a performance of nothing but cop show theme songs or the omnipresence of a Tab-styled soft drink. The film never has the budget or conviction to go the full Zucker Brothers route with the gags, but it often threatens to. Instead the tone comes down somewhere between a ZAZ film and a more energetic Napoleon Dynamite with keytars. There are also brief shades of the work of David Wain and Michael Showalter, too. It’s all over the place, making the whole of the film almost seem like a pastiche, but within those bits there’s some really funny stuff.
The music is of the deliberately mediocre and often crappy vein of Hall & Oates and Wham! knock-off acts that proliferated the decade till Milli Vanilli killed it for everyone. The songwriting is purposefully off, and the backing tracks are somewhat catchy, but the film really comes down to Crake and Olivier selling their roles with the maximum amount of blissfully ignorant enthusiasm. Crake nails down the role of the goofball idealist nicely, and Olivier belongs to the same kind of comedic school that Chris Pratt and Paul Rudd come from where he can say the most ridiculous things but seem charming about it because he somehow manages to take his character more over the top than it needs to be. They get some nice assists from John Gries as a record label executive who looks like a Carradine, Eric Roberts as Todd and B.J.’s boss (doing what appears to be a Jane Lynch impression), and Nikki Leonti as the bartender and woman who comes between them.
Sure, it’s a bit of an obvious target to take shots at the big hair era again, but at least Eternity clearly has fun doing it. The film loses a considerable amount of steam going into the final third when the semblance of a plot has to get wrapped up, but it’s still likeable. It’s not too much more than that, but it’ll do.