JerseyBoy Hero (2011) – By Philip Smolen

“JerseyBoy Hero” is a documentary film by New Jersey rock musician Chris Vaughn and it’s about his attempts to climb the ladder of success in the music business. He and his wife decide to take out a loan on their home and use the money to finance Chris’s career. He then decides to take a camera and capture his real world struggles on video. His lofty goals includes increasing his musical presence in the Garden State, recording his first CD and getting one of his two New Jersey heroes (Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen) to listen to his debut CD.

The film is a bit of a DIY musical variation on the search for the Holy Grail as a determined Vaughn proceeds to try and knock down every closed door that he faces. The film is an eye-opening look at the indifference a musician faces from those in the industry who can help or hurt a career. It’s especially painful to see Chris go from one meeting to another and get lip service from business insiders because Vaughn is basically an honest and likeable man and his innocence and naiveté are beguiling.

Unfortunately, the film’s editing isn’t tight and the movie loses its focus during its middle section. However, it does regain some energy near the end as Chris comes closer and closer to realizing one of his goals.

I also think it would have helped if Chris showed more of the true cost of his decision. He throws in some tantalizing hints such as placing a “For Sale” sign in a window of his house, but the situation is never fully explained. Clarifying how situations like this came about would have made for a more well-rounded film.

Still, this is an earnest look at a modern day Don Quixote and his quest to conquer the tough New Jersey music scene. It’s a tribute to Chris Vaughn’s spirit as well as his determination and it will successfully touch the heart of rock and roll dreamers everywhere.

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