For me, the Beastie Boys will always harken back to the Sixth Grade, when my middle-school class was offered the possibility to visit Washington D.C. with the school’s upperclassmen. On our 700-plus-mile trip, a jam box appeared within the school bus and a cassette tape of License to Ill was proudly played from beginning to end, multiple times. I was amazed by the band’s performance and to this day, I’ve been a big-time fan. Throughout the years, I’ve enjoyed each release from the Beasties, so I was thrilled to learn about the Beastie Boys documentary. When I watched the film, I was brought back to the first time I heard the band’s music and I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stories even more.
This Child of the ’80s will always be a fan of the Beastie Boys. That school trip was monumental in the development of my musical tastes and it will always be looked upon fondly. (My post-college roommate was even inspired by Mix Master Mike to become a DJ.) The trio of performers will always be some of my favorites. Unfortunately, my heart was broken when I learned Adam Yauch (MCA) had died in 2012 to cancer. That was a sad enough time to learn the musician and performer had passed away, but it’s also when the life-long friends stopped being a band. I was very sad about that. To be indulgent for a moment, I’ll mention that I need to hear music from this band, in tumultuous times like these. Thus, it was very important for me to watch the Beastie Boys Story during the global pandemic.
Through 40 years of friendship, Michael Diamond (aka Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) had their ups and downs with Adam Yauch, and this documentary film serves as a memoir to their legacy. It’s part part oral history, part Behind the Music (and all great). From their punk rock roots to their obsession with Carvel ice cream, the Boys really gained attention after hiring Rick Rubin as their DJ and producer (mostly because he owned a bubble machine). Bringing heavy metal and wrestling techniques to the crew, Rubin elevated the trio past their original goal as a band, which was simply to make each other laugh, turning their jokey songs into anthems.
Inundated with rap culture, the band was drawn to Russel Simmons. And then there was MTV’s heavy rotation of “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” The rest of their pop-culture trip is a rollercoaster ride, one which I actively relived through archive footage, public access shows and home movies.
“Being famous in our city is one thing, but being famous in some mall in Missoula, Montana is something entirely different.”
License to Ill was one of the most successful debut albums of all time — and one of my all-around favorites — but something weird happened while the band toured: They went from making fun of party bros to becoming them. Once they burned out, Yauch quit without telling anybody… and that’s when things really got interesting.
This documentary completely envelops my childhood and it absolutely struck a nerve with my “older and wiser” self. There’s plenty of details given that I had no idea about back in the day, mostly because I didn’t have basic cable or I wasn’t old enough to have seen them perform without my parents during their initial heyday. I can’t even imagine my younger self seeing the Boys open for Madonna on their very first tour, let alone staying sane while they toured with Run-DMC (THIS is the show I would have killed to have seen!!!). I actually considered seeing them at Lollapalooza, but by then I was really burned out on day-long festivals jam-packed with people who reeked of sweat and alcohol, among other things. My biggest regret is missing their final show at Bonnaroo, which is located not far from my current location.
While I somewhat knew about Beastie Boys Book, which was released as a memoir in 2018, I have yet to read it. Having now watched Beastie Boys Story, I’d really like to geek out to one of my favorite bands once more. Big hair, ’80s style, MTV, there’s so many things have since disappeared that millennials will never truly know about. Reliving the Beastie’s heyday is one which is definitely must-see TV.
“Sometimes, dumb jokes aren’t always the best things to guide your financial future…”
Even though the band officially disbanded in 2012, there’s nothing preventing Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz from performing music together again. In fact, MCA actually encouraged the duo to do so (although without the band’s name). One such venture I’ve openly longed for: The surviving Beasties joining up with the surviving members of Run-DMC, forming a rap super group. Why hasn’t this happened, already? I’m serious!!!
Through the Beasties, I was introduced to director Spike Jonze, who directs Story. I’d be very excited to see more Beastie documentaries in the future with all parties involved, possibly filled with the final album that was recorded with MCA before he died. That might be asking for a little too much, so watching Story is just as welcome. These innovative musicians who always brought groundbreaking music videos to the forefront do not disappoint. Make sure to stick around for the mid-credits scene, it’s an instant classic!