Published Oct 30, 2019
At the beginning of Manchester's booming music scene, a tiny Sex Pistols gig lit a fire in legendary TV personality Tony Wilson, igniting the rise of Factory Records and the legendary venue Haçienda. Michael Winterbottom's 2002 film 24 Hour Party People is a rowdy and unbelievable tribute to the debauchery that encapsulated Manchester from 1976 to 1992, telling the (mostly) true tale of Wilson (played by Steve Coogan) and many of the people and bands at the heart of the scene.
Due to its crude nature, 24 Hour Party People was bound to catch some flack for being daringly honest. The real Tony Wilson was actually forced to apologize to Mick Hucknall of Simply Red for the jabs taken at him in the film. The Smiths' controversial frontman, Morrissey, hopped on the bandwagon when he refused to have any of the band's music used in the film, due to a real-life dispute with Wilson and Factory Records.
Though the Haçienda closed before the film went into production, many props that adorned the movie version were purchased from the real-life club via an auction. Steve Coogan, who kickstarted his comedy career performing standup at the Haçienda back in its heyday, was floored upon seeing the set due to its uncanny resemblance. In fact, the film pulls plenty of inspiration from the true stories that it's based off of. In a scene where the Happy Mondays are leaving a meeting with London Records, they say they're "going for a Kentucky Fried Chicken." In reality, this was a phrase the band would often use when they were leaving to get their drug fix.
Coogan's portrayal of Tony Wilson was largely improvised, per Winterbottom's direction. This proved an easy feat for the actor, considering he'd worked with Wilson many times before. The film pulls back the curtain on Manchester's infamous music mogul, documenting the good, the bad and the ugly in all its glory.
24 Hour Party People is chaotic, rowdy and so absurd that one can't help but laugh. It proves that the number one rule of being a rock star is that there simply are no rules.
Experience the wild tale of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll in cinemas with Exclaim!'s Screenjams series: a celebration of music movies at Cineplex theatres.
Head to a Cineplex theatre near you to catch 24 Hour Party People on November 22; find more details here.