‘Alan, we’re already dead… how could things get any worse?‘
The story of Creation Records and Alan McGee is one of those rare moments in time that will not, indeed cannot, happen again. Whether it be hard work, talent or serendipity (most likely a combination of all three), McGee arrived at the perfect time, with the perfect bands and the perfect attitude. It is no surprise that this unique period in British music history has already been well documented in various books, documentaries and biopics. It’s impressive then that Creation Stories finds something new to say, but perhaps not surprising. A 90s dream team and Trainspotting reunion of sorts see the Irvine Welsh penned script, based on McGee’s autobiography, directed by Nick Moran of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame, produced by Danny Boyle and starring Ewen Bremner all tied together nicely by a wonderful soundtrack and an eclectic supporting cast – and like McGee himself, it’s absolutely bonkers…
As a young man growing up on the mean streets of Glasgow, Alan McGee (Leo Flanagan – who excels as young McGee) is abused by his father, ignored by his peers and hilariously hated by his grandmother until punk comes along and everything changes. He eventually moves down to London (portrayed by Bremner in adulthood) and starts a record label. Millions of records sold and enough drugs to kill several horses later and McGee finds himself taking stock of his life during an interview with TV personality Gemma (a miscast Suki Waterhouse).
Let’s start with the positives. Welsh’s script is terrific, as with all of his writing, it’s ostentatious, brave and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for a film about the self proclaimed ‘President of Pop’. Bremner is also perfectly cast (fellow Trainspotting alumni Ewan McGregor was rightly vetoed for being ‘too pretty’) and the supporting cast (featuring a range of talent including Paul Kaye, Michael Socha and Thomas Turgoose – the latter two of which are excellent throughout) offer Bremner the perfect foil to present his madcap vision of McGee and his life. He basically plays McGee the same way he plays Spud in that infamous job interview scene.
Not everything here works, however. A long sequence that sees McGee on a drugs binge that culminates with someone beatboxing at him in a crack den is both too long and too daft. The plot is so dizzying that we never really get to know any of the characters in any kind if meaningful way. Most critically, the decision to have actors portray a range of well known 90s icons (the Gallagher brothers, Tony Blair and in one of the film’s darkest sequences, Jimmy Savile) doesn’t really do anything other than take you out of the action. This is a shame because the fabled story of McGee stumbling across Oasis in a tiny venue in Glasgow should be iconic, but it ends up feeling a little flat.
That being said, Creation Stories is a lot of fun and it does a good job in capturing the hedonism and the sheer ballsiness of what Alan McGee and Creation Records achieved. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in a microcosm.