Director: Mat Whitecross
4 (out of 5) Globes
Subjects not breached in the Oasis doc “Supersonic”: the band’s rivalry with Blur, including the time Noel Gallagher said Damon Albarn and Alex Jones should “catch AIDS and die.” Their stint on “Unplugged,” when Liam dropped out due to “laryngitis,” only to spend the show heckling Noel from the balcony. Anything after 1996. We mention these glaring omissions not to bury “Supersonic” — a movie, incidentally, in which the word “Britpop” is never once uttered — but to perversely praise it. It’s exactly the Oasis movie the battling Gallagher brothers would have wanted, and not just because they’re executive producers. And in a way, that’s a beautiful thing.
In the mid-’90s, Oasis hit a land-speed record for biggest climb followed by fastest burnout. Considered the world’s biggest band, at least in England, they were hesitantly accepted into the American fold only to be hastily unfriended, thanks to a cocktail of rampant cockiness, nonsense lyrics, excessive tabloid coverage and, finally, 1997’s stunningly hubristic “Be Here Now,” which sounded like cocaine like no album since Duran Duran’s “Rio,” minus a single likeable radio hit. “Supersonic” has the unenviable task of defending the uncool, while asking you to spend time with a pair who were comparing themselves to The Beatles before their first album was even recorded.
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The latter hurdle is the easiest to overcome: The Gallaghers are hilarious. When reduced to contextless sound bites, these ball-busting Mancunians sounded tiresome; when given two hours to spread out their cheeky bile, it’s easier to surrender to their peculiar blend of the cocksure and a soupcon of very English self-deprecation — and to enjoy some obviously very choice one-liners. Only covering a handful of wild (if hardly Zeppelin-level) years, “Supersonic” is a deep-dive made in the intoxicating house-style of producer Asif Kapadia (“Senna,” “Amy”). That’s to say no talking heads invade the screen. Instead, our eyes are adrift in a sea of archival footage, with gut-busting reminiscences fighting to be heard over the band’s thunderous sounds. Come for Noel’s uproarious rant against employing drummers; stay to hear “Rock N’ Roll Star” booming through movie theater speakers.
“Supersonic” makes a strong case for Oasis as the world’s funniest band, but does it make the case for their music? Does a case really need to be made? Now that the dust has long settled, it’s easier to like, even love their blend of dopiness and self-awareness. Noel and Liam had no pretentions to artistic greatness; they knew what they were. When Noel reflects that their real worth can be measured in their one-time mega-popularity, he does it without coming off as falsely modest or even a corporate whore. (Also, “Definitely Maybe” is a masterpiece, “Digsy’s Diner” aside, and so is “Wonderwall.”)
By the end, even their boasting seems touching, heartbreaking, even. You watch a band often held together by Scotch tape and bubble gum — behold footage of their debut American show from 1994, in which they badly fumble through a set the night after taking meth for the first time — as they get so high on their fame that even they can’t tell when they’ve reached peak Oasis. That came early, during their two-night, record-busting sellout at Knebworth in 1996. “We should have stopped there,” Noel says, wistfully. “Supersonic” could plod on, telling us all about “Heathen Chemistry,” taking us all the way through (the apparently not bad) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Instead, it grants them their wish.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge