Review by Sean Boelman
Even though his lyrics would imply otherwise, rockstar Shannon Hoon lived a life that was anything but plain. But despite unprecedented access to Hoon’s personal perspective and a wealth of interesting life events to pull from, All I Can Say is a shockingly dull and uninspired music documentary.
Assembled from Hoon’s personal video diaries, the documentary takes a look at the life of the late Blind Melon frontman, exploring both his on-stage and off-stage antics. And though one would expect a film about someone who once got into massive trouble for peeing on a stage to be interesting, the movie gets too caught up in the mundanities of Hoon’s life to be entertaining.
It becomes pretty clear early on that the purpose here is to humanize Hoon and make him feel more approachable. As he says in “No Rain” (the song which inspired the title of the film), “All I can say is that my life is pretty plain.” And yet, since the audience will know this to not be the case, something is left to be desired.
The best moments of the movie are those which show Hoon as the charming and playful person that he was. These moments allow a greater personal connection with the character than anything involving his music (the repetition of rehearsal footage does become overwhelming at a certain point).
That said, there is also a giant elephant in the room here, and that is Hoon’s death from an accidental overdose. Fans will know that Hoon faced a lot of demons in his life, and while capturing his positive essence is important, it is arguably more essential that audiences learn from the mistakes he made.
Perhaps the single biggest issue here, though, is the lack of structure. The film presents a bunch of clips in a seemingly random order. There’s very little sense of time here apart from the occasional timestamp on the footage. Even a basic thematic connection would have been enough to make the movie feel more cohesive.
Still, the archive footage here is admittedly pretty phenomenal, and it is reason enough to make the film a worthy watch for fans of the singer. Hoon obviously liked to play around with the camera, and the result is an aesthetic experiment. The soundtrack is also very unorthodox, as it isn’t entirely rooted in the sounds of Blind Melon.
There are some really interesting things about All I Can Say, but sadly, much of it doesn’t work out in a satisfying way. More often than not, this is a movie made primarily for diehard Blind Melon fans.
All I Can Say is now screening online in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.