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Film / Hard Core Logo

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Hard Core Logo is a 1996 Canadian mockumentary directed by Bruce McDonald, based on a Canadian experimental novel written by Michael Turner in 1993. Both works center around the reunion tour of the titular massively dysfunctional Canadian punk band, and the interactions between the band members, but the movie changes and expands on the novel in various ways, adds some additional characters (particularly "Bruce McDonald," the director of the documentary) and character traits (such as John's schizophrenia), alters the ending, and has a bigger fandom.

HCL gained additional popularity when it was discovered by fans of Due South, since lead guitarist Billy Tallent was an early role for Callum Keith Rennie, the actor who played Ray Kowalski.

Hard Core Logo contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Both Joe and Billy. On-stage and off, they're rarely seen without bottles of beer or something stronger in hand. In one interview, Joe admits he doesn't have any plans for when he's 45 or 50, because the odds are pretty good that he'll be dead from liver damage by then.
  • As Himself: Bruce McDonald portrays a fictionalized version of himself who doesn't step out from behind the camera very much, but still manages to interact with the plot.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: An In-Universe variant. At one point the band members start mocking Bruce McDonald, the guy who's currently filming them—claiming that all his prior movies are in the bargain bin.
  • The Cameo: Several punk musicians—including Art Bergmann, Joey Shithead from D.O.A., and Joey Ramone of The Ramones—briefly appear as themselves during the rock shows.
  • Canada, Eh?: Mostly avoids the usual stereotypes, as the main characters are from the West Coast and not particularly polite, but this gets invoked during the "Canadian Punk Band Name" game on the road trip.
  • Chainsaw Good: While tripping on acid, Pipefitter uses a chainsaw to decapitate a goat.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: They're all punk rockers, so hardly a conversation passes without a "fuck" or twelve.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover blurb promoted it as a This is Spın̈al Tap style comedy, when in fact it's a character-driven drama with some funny moments.
  • Driven to Suicide: After the very nasty falling-out in the final show of the tour, Joe Dick just waits outside the venue forlornly, clutching a bottle of whiskey. He walks up to the cameraman and shares a drink with him... then suddenly pulls a gun from his pocket and shoots himself in the head.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Joe Dick and Billy Tallent are the core of the band, but diametrically opposed. Joe is anti-establishment and completely committed to the underground punk lifestyle, but still acts more like a teenager than an adult, and he resents Billy's attempts to find fame and success elsewhere. Billy's convinced that he deserves bigger and better, resents that Joe has sabotaged all of Hard Core Logo's opportunities for real success, and feels that continuing to perform in the band is beneath him. Pipefitter is just an immature prankster. John Oxenberger is the one guy in the band who isn't a Jerkass, but he's schizophrenic and lost his meds, so he's no help at fixing everyone else's messes. Even the director Bruce McDonald lets himself get involved in the drama rather than being an impartial observer, and uses an interview segment to spill a secret that stirs up tension between Joe and Billy even further.
  • Everybody Smokes: Along with the drinking and drug use, the main characters smoke like chimneys.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In the band manager's only scene, he starts breaking down the finances for the tour—then realizes it's going to cost more money than they could possibly make.
    Mulligan: Say they make six G's... you know, and they take my fifteen percent. The band, the food, the gas, hotel... uh... four guys, 3000 miles, five nights. At this point, you do it for love.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Near the halfway point, John Oxenberger lays bare each of his bandmate's fatal flaws in a few sentences. None of them try to change their ways at all. Later Bucky Haight specifically calls out Joe Dick for using lies about him to motivate other people—and the very next day, Joe's back to using lies about Bucky to get what he wants.
  • I Lied: Joe Dick convinces the band to get back together to perform a benefit concert to raise money for their mentor Bucky Haight, who just recently got shot and had both legs amputated. Then he convinces them to stay together for a five-night tour, explaining they've got backing from a record label that's interested in a new album from them. Several days later, the band swings by Bucky Haight's home... and see him walking around, both legs fully intact. Joe Dick admits to the camera (though not to the rest of the band) that he also lied about the record label; the entire tour has been running on lies. Amusingly, Joe escalates his lies at the next show, telling the audience that that they're playing in memory of the recently deceased Bucky Haight.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Inverted, since the schizophrenic John Oxenberger is less prone to violence than anyone else in the band, whether on his meds or off. At the disastrous final show, while the rest of the band gets into fisticuffs or smashes their instruments, John just rambles about love into his mic.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • As a mockumentary about a dysfunctional, past-their-prime rock band, this film was bound to draw comparisons to This is Spın̈al Tap. Joe and Billy outright mention Spinal Tap as they're playing an alphabet game with movie titles.
    • Slightly later, these members of a fictional Canadian punk band play another game... making up names for fake Canadian punk bands.
  • Licking the Blade: Billy, during the acid trip sequence. This scene is popular with the fangirls.
  • Manchild: Pipefitter, the happy-go-lucky drummer who likes sandwiches and can't even remember his real name at this point.
    • The band as a whole qualifies to an extent, particularly Joe who dresses and acts more like a snarky teenager than an adult. In one of his lucid moments, John points out the inherently ridiculous nature of grown men with punk names like Joe Dick and Billy Talent and wondering how much longer they're going to hang on to names they came up with when they were sixteen. The film gets quite a bit of dramatic mileage out of Joe's refusal to act like an adult.
  • Mind Screw: The acid trip scene has an appropriately hallucinatory quality.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Billy Tallent is just too pretty.
  • Mushroom Samba: Bucky Haight invites the members of Hard Core Logo to take some acid with him, and even gets the director and camera crew to join in the fun. Cut to a scene of bizarre camera angles and discordant music as everyone cavorts about the farm, licking blades and butchering a goat. And Satan shows up too, somehow.
  • Never Found the Body: A variation. We see Joe Dick's death on-camera, but the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue mentions that his body was stolen from the cemetery a few years afterwards, and has yet to be recovered.
  • Off the Wagon: Billy, when he gets back to Canada.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: According to John Oxenberger's journal, the drummer Pipefitter doesn't even remember his real name anymore.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bucky Haight drinks and drops acid with the members of Hard Core Logo, to get them to let their guard down. Then as they're leaving, he unloads into Joe Dick, explaining that he retired to this farm specifically because he couldn't stand people in the music scene using him. And now, by lying about Bucky losing his legs, Joe is using him, too. Bucky tells him to never come back.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: a Western example. Joe's the passionate, outgoing, and impulsive one, while Billy is more calculating, ambitious, and quietly charming.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Used as a sign of the band completely falling apart. Joe ends the last show by fist-fighting Billy, then walks back on stage and smashes Billy's guitar. The guitar in question was a vintage Fender Statocaster, and a gift from their mentor Bucky Haight, to boot. Pipefitter sees the destruction and, completely misreading the mood, follows the lead and destroys his own snare drum.
  • Sanity Slippage: John after he loses his meds.
  • Sarcasm Mode: After Joe Dick motivated everyone by telling how their mentor Bucky Haight lost both legs... they go to Bucky's farm and see him walking around. Billy quips that the clean air on the farm helped Bucky make a remarkable recovery.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: A fan calls Joe Dick out on his lie about Bucky Haight, saying a friend of hers recently saw Bucky still with both legs. Billy Tallent (who at this point knows Joe is lying) comes to Joe's defense, spinning a story about how they both "saw the stump" and Bucky forced them to touch it.
  • Sell-Out: Billy is seen as one by Joe for having a successful career outside of the band.
  • Signature Style: road trips and rock music are recurring elements in Bruce McDonald's work.
  • Take That, Audience!: In-Universe—Joe Dick starts off the Vancouver show by telling the crowd how great they are—then saying that was a lie and they all suck. Several people in the audience respond by throwing beer bottles at him.
  • Talkative Loon: After he loses his meds, John eventually progresses to this point. When the final show degenerates into instrument-smashing, John just monologues poetry into his mic and only stops when Pipefitter cuts him off.
  • Tragedy: Joe Dick's character arc is a variation. When his bad decisions all start closing in on him, the results are not pretty.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Joe and Billy, although they're older and even more screwed up than usual for the trope.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The sudden appearance of Satan during the Mushroom Samba scene briefly pushes the film into Magic Realism territory—while the rest of the movie is formatted as a grounded (if comedic) documentary.note 
  • Unreliable Expositor: Joe Dick is proven to be a liar, so everything he tells the camera is suspect.
  • Unreliable Narrator: To an extent, Bruce McDonald. Since he fails to stay impartial and becomes a participant in the band's all-consuming drama vortex, it raises the question of how much of the movie is accurate and how much might be Manipulative Editing.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Interspersed with the end credits are brief descriptions of what each of the band members are up to currently.