The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

Are you somewhere between the ages of 28-38?  Do you love 80’s nostalgia?  Have you ever eaten pizza?  Remember when Chuck E. Cheese used to be called Showbiz Pizza Place? If you answered yes to those questions, then you probably remember the animatronics rock show they used to have at Showbiz called The Rock-afire Explosion.  This movie chronicles the love that a few devoted fans still have for this show; many going so far as to have their own versions installed in their homes or garages.  You might think it is kind of crazy? And you could be right. But is it any crazier than the 88 cats you own, or the life-sized Darth Vader statue in your bedroom? Not really. People like what they like, and if they want to have a creepy 7-creature band in their garage so be it. Who are we to judge?

Each person in the documentary has their own reasons for loving the stage show, and while not everyone can own the original, some just collect items with the character’s pictures on it, or get ‘awesome’ Showbiz tattoos.  In addition to the fans, we also get a brief history of the show and Showbiz as a company, and eventually learn how the company grew too fast for their own good.  We also get to meet the creator of the show and the characters, Aaron.  This guy is still just a bright-eyed kid at heart, and you can tell he really loved what he created, but unfortunately he loved them too much, and refused to give up the rights to them, so they were replaced in all of the restaurants.

Aaron went from employing close to 400 workers in 1983, to just 3 in 2003; now it’s just him.  He gives the camera a tour of his once booming factory, which is now just a shadow of its former glory.  It looks exactly the same as it did 25 years ago. When people were let go, their desks and workstations were not touched. Rooms full of costumes and parts for the shows remain in their bins, and racks full of Apple II computers and old audio equipment sit covered in dust as the world’s excitement over animatronic stage shows passed them by.  It’s really sad to see Aaron today; still excited about the show and with such anticipation of a time when he will be back in business.  A time that will, most likely, never come.  But he does hold the respect and idolization of those fans that grew up with The Rock-afire Explosion, and they view him as a god among men.

Alex’s Thoughts:  This thing is right in my wheelhouse, baby.  I vividly remember that show, and watching this documentary brought back a lot of memories about going to Showbiz as a kid.  Seeing all of the old commercials and video reminded me of a simpler time in my life, and I think that the fans in this movie feel the same way times ten.  I feel the same way about Star Wars as these people feel about The Rock-afire Explosion, if I could build a replica of the cantina in my basement, I would.  So it’s easy for me to relate to these folks.   It goes from a fun movie (highlighted by a guy who has reprogrammed his show to popular music), to sort of sad really quick; when you see what became of Aaron’s company and his still high hopes for a resurgence of his creation.  If you remember Showbiz, you need to see this.  If you don’t, you can blame your parents for not boning sooner.  Alex Rates This Movie 9/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I found this on Netflix and knew I had to watch it. I think that even if you don’t know about the Rock-afire band, or never been to a Show-biz, this little documentary is short and sweet. It comes in at around an hour and fifteen minutes and feels even faster. I really enjoyed this, and found that I still knew all the words to the old commercials. I don’t know what else to say, other than see this, see it now, and bask in the waves of nostalgia. Plus some the people that they interview may even make you feel normal by comparison.Tim Rates This Movie 10/10

“I just love them so much, it makes me want to cry.”

 View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue