In the same way that a lot of mysteries or courtroom dramas feel out of place in the theater now, when they’re so plentiful on television, I’m not sure what purpose a musical documentary (which doesn’t even seem the appropriate term for It Might Get Loud) serves. There’s even a show (Inconoclasts) specifically designed to accomplish what this movie seems to be after (albeit in a much more general way.) In and of itself, getting Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White to sit on a stage together isn’t a monumental occasion. But It Might Get Loud seems to be counting on you thinking it is.
Of course, none of this means it’s poorly done. It doesn’t even mean it isn’t interesting. It just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile endeavor for somebody going to the movies. I like all these people. Jimmy Page is one of the most fascinating figures in rock history. But that’s neither taken for granted nor explored. There’s a sort of brief vague biography given, but it’s more interested in informing the things The Edge will ask him when they’re all together later than providing anything terribly new or personal. Taking The Edge back to the high school where U2 not only formed, but practiced, was a great idea and, while maybe not fully realized as this was not just about him (it should have been), was impressively satisfying, especially the final moment at the bulletin board upon which Larry Mullen posted the band’s call to arms. However, the parallels of Headley Grange and Franklin, Tennessee for Jimmy Page and Jack White (respectively) are not only incongruous, but terribly inadequate. Led Zeppelin IV is one of the most pored over albums in the history of albums. There isn’t a lot of new to be had there, even in bringing its chief architect back to it. Never mind that the idea driving It Might Get Loud seems to be getting to the genesis of these men’s careers in music, not the pinnacles. Jack White’s beginning seems like it’s too insular and goes too far back. Until he plays Son House for us, then it’s clear we’re seeing exactly what we should be seeing. But the inclusion of a falsified 9 year old Jack, at one point playing “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” with “current age” Jack, is off putting in an otherwise staid presentation, not to mention completely void of any impact on anything being done. It’s the only way for the movie to allow Jack to speak without speaking to the camera, but that’s what everyone else is doing, and he seems to do fine on the occasion that he does it, so I’m not sure why it was necessary.
The conclusion seems odd too. Despite the esoteric guitar reference, for them to all get together and play “The Weight” doesn’t at all seem appropriate or challenging. Nor does it turn out to be very good. But after seeing the strange, forced situations the rest of the movie presents us with, it’s kind of a precious flash of actual documentary. There is one moment that maybe makes the whole thing worthwhile though. As they work their way through the song, you can see in everyone who and what they are to the annals in which they are such revered figures: Jack White takes charge with the false bravado of the rebel spirited teenager he is to rock n roll while The Edge quietly follows along, humoring him with a smirk of an amused parent. And Jimmy Page sits to the side, effortlessly filling in the spaces, watching it all like the god who’s grown bored with omnipotence and has decided to see what the mortals are up to.