Billie Joe Armstrong is an entertainer. Yes, he’s the frontman of Green Day, perhaps the most important rock band of the past 20 years, but he also dabbles in acting. He sometimes played the role of St. Jimmy in American Idiot, the musical based on the band’s eponymous album, and he’s acted in films like This Is 40 and Like Sunday, Like Rain.
His desire to perform and entertain across multifarious media is clear, and now Armstrong has been given the chance to carry his own movie as the lead actor. In Ordinary World, which will see a video on demand and limited theatrical release on October 14, the punk rocker is tasked with playing the main protagonist, but how well does he pull it off?
It’s helpful that the role isn’t too far removed from Armstrong’s actual life, albeit a far less fruitful version of the superstar’s IRL timeline: Instead of being credited with bringing punk music to a wider mainstream audience and eventually being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Perry Miller’s band is in the midst of a ten-year indefinite hiatus, a break that seems more definite by the day as he settles into family life and working at his family’s hardware store.
It feels especially difficult to gauge Armstrong’s acting muscles based on this role, because playing a relatively ordinary character that feels close to his reality, he doesn’t have much opportunity to flex them. However, at no time is his performance awkward or uncomfortable; he plays the role well and is completely believable as an aging rocker running in place while looking back wistfully on a more exciting past.
With this in mind, it’s not his fault that the plot is not especially memorable, like a weaker Judd Apatow entry. Those can sometimes run long and the story can kind of stagnate at times, sure, but they are still worthwhile for their charismatic, complex characters. Though Ordinary World boasts a strong supporting cast—including Fred Armisen, Judy Greer, Selma Blair, Dallas Roberts, Chris Messina, Brian Baumgartner, and Kevin Corrigan—there isn’t really a strong character to be found. Outside of compulsory feel-good family moments, nothing particularly emotionally compelling happens, and perhaps it’s because Ordinary World features a world that’s a touch too ordinary, filled with people who don’t really provide a reason to root for them one way or the other.
As one might expect, this movie’s biggest audience is likely to be Green Day fans who are curious to see what it’s like to have their favorite singer star in a movie. He’s definitely serviceable as an actor, and we would definitely like to see him perform in roles that deviate from his own reality in the future. So, Ordinary World is worth a play for curious parties, but it deviates from Green Day’s finest work in that you’ll probably only want to experience it once.
Rating: 3 out of 5 burritos:
Featured image: Universal Pictures