At times, the unique fan studded documentary “Springsteen and I” is so laugh out loud funny that you don’t even have to be a Bruce Springsteen (AKA “The Boss”) music lover to enjoy it.
But it helps.
Largely culled over six intense months in an edit suite from over 2,000 fan video submissions, newbie director Baillie Walsh (under the watchful eye of über veteran Ridley Scott), explores the intense devotion, influence and love that fans have for Bruce Springsteen’s music, told from their point of view.
As a result, you get multiple appearances by a photogenic female Asian-American truck driver, who proudly declares that “listening to Bruce Springsteen taught me that I could have a master’s degree…and be a truck driver!”
Along with the near bonkers soccer Moms and too intense devotees, there’s also the less than impressed English man who only goes to the concerts because his wife loves Springsteen. He even wishes the legendary epic three plus hour concerts Springsteen puts on were shorter, going so far as to beg him on camera at one point (Springsteen himself will respond, but much later in the film).
Punctuating the wide ranging stories and musings by fans are rarely-seen concert clips that showcase various stages of Springsteen’s forty year career. Somehow, the stark performances effectively underscore what the fans are expressing, be it through quick word association or longer, heartfelt declarations detailing life-changing events.
The best moments of all though, are the times when a fan’s 15 minutes of fame and a Springsteen performance collide on stage—or in one case, on the street. For instance, an Elvis Presley impersonator clearly relishes his chance to shine onstage as “The King” while jamming on “All Shook Up” with The Boss. That is, until he memorably calls out for a guitar solo where one doesn’t exist.
In another recollection, a street musician gets the shock of his life when he sees Springsteen walking nearby and dares him to join him for an informal jam. When Bruce takes him up on the offer, the man’s dreams, faith and lifelong opinion of The Boss are cemented for life.
What sounds like a mawkish, fawning concept is actually memorable and enjoyable, largely due to the real-life characters and the sheer delight and awe they have when it comes to Bruce Springsteen and his music.
Those who stay on beyond the ending will also be treated to live concert footage filmed at London’s Hyde Park (featuring Springsteen and Paul McCartney together) and an extended epilogue which sees some of the more devoted fans meeting The Boss in person.
Though you get the feeling Springsteen will put the definitive stamp on his own life documentary at some point, it’s enough to make one run home and sing-along to “Born To Run” one more time…