I guess the highest compliment you can pay Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! – a concert film made by distributing 50 cameras to fans at a Madison Square Gardens Beastie Boys show and aggregating the footage – is that when I walked out of the packed Sundance Film Festival press screening at the Holiday theaters, I was amazed my clothes didn't smell like weed and spilled beer.

And yeah, that is a compliment; as concert films become mass-produced for the DVD and cable channel markets, they grow more and more similar as they roll off the assembly line. With Awesome; … , The Beastie Boys are, at least, trying something new (even if I seem to recall a Bon Jovi video with the same methodology in my hazy MTV memories …). Directed by "Nathanial Hörnblowér" (also known as Beastie Adam Yauch), Awesome; … isn't just an experiment in collective creativity or a easy gimmick; Awesome; ... comes closer to recreating the concert experience than 99.9 percent of its peers in the field. That doesn't come from how well it captures the performance – a lot of the footage is grainy or distant or shaky, and a lot of the film is covered up by video effects – but rather in how well it captures the entire concert experience – beer runs, trips to the bathroom, arguing with security about whether or not you can, in fact, be allowed backstage. The film's mix of images starts as stunning and then goes over the top; every time you get used to the barrage, it kicks up another notch or drops another visual beat into the mix.

But the Beastie Boys have always loved collage – more, in fact, than their role as hip-hoppers and rappers would already suggest.  (If collage/deconstruction/sampling/re-mixing is the dominant artistic theme of modern pop culture – and some would suggest it is – then hip-hop is, then, the artform that embodies that idea.) The Beasties have always mixed and matched their obsessions, dropping references to action director John Woo, underground cartoonist Vaughan Bode, baseball icon Rod Carew and '70s action flick The Taking of Pelham One Two Three … all in one song, in fact. Awesome; … starts in similar fashion: The 'i's' in the ThinkFilm logo are dotted with xylophone hits from the single 'Girls," the Oscilloscope Laboratories production logo is styled like a '60s Cinemascope logo, and the film kicks off with the title crawl from an '80s trash-cinema masterpiece recreated verbatim. And then, you get to the good stuff. And it's all good stuff.

MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock have gone from being rap's enfants terrible to eminences grise (literally), and it's not just Gen-X nostalgia, or how they brought rap to the White suburbs (if that were the case, Vanilla Ice and Snow would still be recording – which, thank God, they aren't.) The songs are great; the longtime anchoring support of DJ Mixmaster Mike and keyboardist Mark "Money Mark" Ramos-Nishita elevates the troupe even higher as songsmiths and performers. And the fact of the matter is that if enthusiasm and joy are contagious – which they are – then The Beastie Boys are having a hell of a time and it shows; check out how when it's time for the full band set, a lit-up Gazebo emerges with the entire band in retro-tragic Prom wear, or how the band definitively tackles the question of how to inject life into the tired ritual of the encore.

And again, it's a fun show. Awesome; … captures the illusion central to concert going; that you're part of a huge crowd but having an individual experience with the people you're watching. (Really, a rock concert is just like a Vatican mass, but with deeper base.) And that's here: From the sing-along jocks in backwards baseball caps, to the boys and girls dancing on chairs to the concessionaire liberated from her polyester shirt, nametag and visor for a second as she air-guitars the kickin' riff to "Sabotage" in a moment of  transcendence as pure as it is simple Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! is an pure piece of pop/punk/funk/hip-hop moviemaking that manages to capture something wonderful while bringing it back alive.

Others on Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
: Variety's Dennis Harvey, though he found the "visual gimmicky" nearly overwhelming by the end of the film, ultimately described it as "One of the more exciting feature records of a single-act [performance]."