CATEGORIES Cinematical

Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, is a documentary about the punk/pop band derived from Super8 films shot by drummer Stewart Copeland. Sounds promising based on the level of access the director has to his subjects and the fact that the band broke up at the top of their game. After the break up fans were left with only their memories of a hard rocking Sting, who traded a kick-ass band for a life of Jazzy interludes on Light FM and sellout Jaguar commercials. In fact, sell out would be a kind assessment of Sting in the minds of most Police fans.

The film starts as the Police head out on their first US tour in the late seventies. This consists of long shots driving down the road and people cavorting in hotel rooms--nothing we haven't seen before. The voiceover from Copeland reveals little, and 40 minutes into the film I'm left wondering if anything will ever happen.

During all this time we're subjected to grainy, shaky video with horrible sound. It would be easy to forgive the poor quality of the video if it captured some rocking early performances, but the director/cameraman was too busy playing the drums at too many performance,s I guess.

Predictably the crowds develop from single digits to six figures, but the characters don't develop at all. The Police haven't said more than 20 lines to the camera 45 minutes into the film, and most surprisingly no one is taking drugs, fighting, or running around naked with groupies. Sting--who you would think would be an interesting person--has nothing to say.

Others on Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out: Variety's Dennis Harvey was decidedly unimpressed, calling the film "a trite, whitewashed-to-blankness vanity project."

Copeland's voice overs are strained and shallow. He laments how their luxurious hotel suites are The Man's way of sticking it to them: "Our people want us safe in our box until showtime." He complains about celebrity, "We are avatars." OK, sure.

An hour into the film Copeland finally works up the nerve to bring up Sting shutting them out: "this band is beginning to get on my nerves. Sting doesn't bring in half finished songs anymore, he is doing so much home work that there's not much room for new ideas.  His ideas are brilliant, but more and more we're stuck with them and he's liking it less and less when we mess with them."

The break up is given less than 60 seconds--in a poem:

"There are other things out there that we are missing.
Hollywood is knocking on Sting-go's door
Andy wants to play with his cameras more
and I want to know what this life is for.
You know what? We're done. When you get to where you're going the ride is over."

Thanks for that, but we invested an hour of lives with this film--we deserve a little more.

More happens before the opening credits of Sundance winner DIG, than in this entire film. Clearly rock stars shouldn't make films about themselves. Clearly Copeland is doing image control and is trying to write his own history. You've gotta think there are some more edgy scenes that were left out of this film, or never taped. Where are the screaming matches between Sting and his band members? Where are the pissed off fans criticizing Sting for destroying one of the best rock bands of the 80s?

Documentaries rise and fall with their credibility, and this film feels as credible as a father cutting a son's football highlights in slow motion to the Chariots of Fire soundtrack.

Someone should take this footage, add some objective 3rd parties commenting on The Police, and redo the voiceover to tell the real story. Until then, don't waste your time on this one.