Variety Daily
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 10:19PM
The Good Listeners

Eminently well-suited for inclusion in a CD/DVD package, "Don't Quit Your Daydream" also stands on its own merits as a seriocomic docu about fortysomething popsters -- Clark Stiles and Nathan Khyber, collectively known as the Good Listeners -- who take a unique approach to jump-starting their stalled dreams of pop stardom. Fest and VOD circulation could capture simpatico auds, and limited theatrical playdates are entirely possible. Years after flirting with fame as members of a short-lived '90s rock band called Absinthe, Stiles and Khyber try another shot at success by taking a 24-day road trip, with recording equipment (and a film crew) loaded in a rented RV. Their goal: Record a new song with a local musician in each city they visit.

It's easy to dismiss the Good Listeners sound as derivative -- a little Coldplay here, a little Arcade Fire there, lots of other groups everywhere -- but the best tracks performed in this witness-at-creation docu are undeniably chart-worthy. Better still, the pic spends quality time with some fascinating collaborators, including Ron Black Guidry, who plays guitar while conducting swamp tours in the Cajun country of Houma, La.; and Bingo Richey, an unreconstructed hippie in Joshua Tree, Calif., who freely admits he "missed a lot of school due to Frisbee and pot and chicks."

The Good Listeners haven't exactly been under the radar -- the group has cut three albums, and had a song, "Time Will Tell," featured on the soundtrack of "The Devil Wears Prada" -- but this pic could elevate the band's profile.

Also contributing: Adrian Grenier ("Entourage"), who served as co-producer and invited the Good Listeners to the Kentucky Derby. Docu shows nothing of the actual horse race but does cover an amusing detour to a thrift shop where Stiles and Khyber acquire properly resplendent attire.

Pic pauses sporadically for serious moments, most affectingly when Stiles and Khyber reflect on past collaborations, personal tragedies and professional betrayals. (The dissolution of Absinthe left lasting scars.) Tech values are first-rate, with a superior sound mix.

Camera (color, HD), Marcin Nadonly; editor, Shawn P. Mitchell; music supervisor, Spike Keating; associate producer, Robin Garvick. Reviewed at Nashville Film Festival (competing), April 22, 2010. Running time: 83 MIN.

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