The best movies tend to be those you can relate to, and here at AP, all we know is rock ‘n’ roll, so we put our heads together to curate this list of some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) rock movies. Invite your rowdiest friends over, pop that popcorn, hardcore dance in the living room for a little bit, then sit your asses down and enjoy a rock ‘n’ roll-movie night with the following flicks.

Scott Heisel [SH]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Jason Pettigrew [JP]
Cassie Whitt [CW]

Anthony Wilson was so taken by the nascent punk-rock scene happening in late-’70s Britain, he founded the groundbreaking indie imprint Factory Records. More importantly, Wilson cultivated a mystique: Everything about the label—from bands like Joy Division, Section 25 and Crispy Ambulance to the arcane imagery used to promote them—was shrouded in mystery. In this 2002 film, director Michael Winterbottom decided to play the whole thing over the top. Casting British comedic actor Steve Coogan as Wilson went far to deflate the kind of pronounced pretentiousness, the late founder was so fond of propagating. So what could’ve been a display of legend-propping comes off as the story of a bunch of wiseguy drinking buddies who unwittingly engineered one of post-punk’s most legendary music scenes. “When forced between truth and legend,” Coogan-as-Wilson quips, “print the legend.” [JP]

Judging by the number of times the phrase “It’s a think piece” is said in the office, it’s safe to say Almost Famous is a staple among AP staffers. Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film is about a budding teenage journalist named William Miller, who nabs the ultimate music writer gig: Following Stillwater (not a real band) on tour, and writing about it for Rolling Stone. Along the way he gets life/career advice from Lester Bangs (look him up, kids), falls in love with a band-aid named Penny Lane (not a groupie—big difference) and gets deflowered. He does end up getting published in Rolling Stone, but his journey there is much more interesting. [BM]

This comedy set in the late ’70s is about four high schoolers (including Edward Furlong, best known from American History X and Terminator 2: Judgment Day) from AP's hometown of Cleveland who are obsessed with KISS, and will do whatever it takes to get to the band's massive homecoming concert at Detroit's Cobo Hall. It's part roadtrip movie, part rebelling-youth movie, but 100 percent rock ’n’ roll. KISS themselves even have a bit of an extended cameo, and it's probably the least whorish Gene Simmons has ever been on camera. [SH]

This obscure 1983 comedy centers around a massive New Year’s Eve rock concert held by an independent booker that’s being sabotaged by an unscrupulous mega-promoter. Malcolm McDowell is British rocker-prick Reggie Wanker, whose head is so far up his ass, he can count all the M&M’s he’s eaten that day. Lou Reed plays a recluse folk singer who hasn’t left his house in six years but decides to make an appearance at the event. What seals it for this writer is legendary punk wiseguy Lee Ving as Nada lead singer Piggy. He’s totally typecast: Ving raises hell, signs his contract with a bloody headbutt on a car trunk, and turns in an ass-kicking version of Willie Dixon’s blues standard “Hoochie Coochie Man” (Fear perform the song on the soundtrack; other members of the band appear briefly in the film.) while demanding people dive off the balcony (“Come on! Jump on my face!”) And forget Netflix: you can watch the whole movie at the link above! [JP]


While this movie is quite funny in its own right, it doesn't really get enough appreciation for being a super-subversive take on rampant, corporate commercialism in media and entertainment. It's loaded with garish product placement (done without the companies in question's knowledge) and even features a surprisingly self-aware Carson Daly playing (and mocking) himself. But even if you don't want to look too deep into Josie And The Pussycats, you'll still enjoy it as a killer rock comedy with some great songs (nearly all of which feature vocals by Kay Hanley of Letters To Cleo) written by Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, Counting Crows' Adam Duritz, that dog.'s Anna Waronker and more. [SH]

Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox star in this 1987 talkie as Joe and Patti Rasnick, a brother and sister whose band the Barbusters have been kicking ass in the Cleveland rock scene. Like any bunch of hungry rockers, there’s some baggage involved: Jett’s rebellious character has a child whose father she steadfastly refuses to identify, which sets off her deeply religious mother (played by the great Gena Rowlands). You’ve got an amalgam of passion, ambition and rebellion, massive familial conflict, a shot-and-a-beer party-rock soundtrack and the kind of underdog story that will speak to anyone who ever wanted to be the subject of a Bruce Springsteen song. Nine Inch Nails fans take note: You can see Trent Reznor sporting a Wolverine-style faux-hawk as the keyboard player for new wave outfit the Problems, who are playing the bar the Rasnicks frequent. [JP]

Michael Cera, you had us at “I made you a mix CD.” The film—based on the novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan—follows high-school students Nick (Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings), who meet one night in Manhattan while searching for a band called Where’s Fluffy?. As fate would have it, Norah has been listening to the mix CDs Nick keeps making for his ex-girlfriend Tris, who could care less about Nick’s music. Highlights of the film include Nick’s “all-gay” band the Jerk-Offs and Norah’s drunk best friend, Caroline, played by Ari Graynor. [BM]

Back in the ’80s, when bad music was at an all-time high, there was a saving grace, and his name was Prince. The 1984 rock musical, Purple Rain,follows an aspiring Minneapolis musician simply called “The Kid” (Prince). He’s got a band, he’s got a girl and he’s (of course) got some enemies. There’s more to the story, but what’s really essential is the soundtrack. Not only did the album sell more than 20 million copies, but it also earned Prince three Grammy awards and an Oscar for Best Original Score. And did we mention the songs? “When Doves Cry,” “Darling Nikki” and of course the title track, which will be in your head for a week after watching the movie. [BM]


Imagine your favorite band overtaking your school and just destroying. For Riff, the rebellious heroine of Rock ‘N’ Roll high school and Ramones super fan, that becomes a reality in this film filled with so much youth chaos that it makes even I, only a few years older than a teen, a little bit nervous. [CW]


The go-to recollection of this 2010 Runaways biopic is always the naughty time between Kristen Stewart (as Joan Jett) and Dakota Fanning (as Cherie Currie), but lest we forget Kim Fowley’s (played by Micheal Shannon) portrayed biz-sogyny and the general bad-assery of angry young girls yelling in your face in dirty rock clubs. The real Joan Jett is credited as executive producer of the film, and though it may not be 100 percent historically accurate or based word-for-word on Cherie Currie’s memoir, Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway, Jett has said it captured the ‘70s L.A. rock scene well. [CW]


It’s hard out there (in Salt Lake City) for a punk, as blue-haired anarchist protagonist Stevo (played by Matthew Lillard) shows us in SLC Punk. The film explores the daily lives of society’s loud-music-listening nuisances in the ‘80s over a killer soundtrack of Ramones, Dead Kennedys, the Stooges, Adolescents and pretty much every other iconic punk band you can name. Tragedy strikes Stevo’s best friend Heroin Bob, and our hero eventually sells out… Or is it just growing up? Hmm... [CW]


The Spice Girls brought baby feminism to little girls around the ‘90s world, dropped some songs that are still “ironically” sung (quotation marks because you know your smug ass still actually loves these songs, non-ironically) nearly a decade later and starred in the magnificent Spice World film, which follows their tour/superheroine mishaps leading up to their gig at Royal Albert Hall in London. You know you’re jealous of their bus rooms, you know the three options are always “the little Gucci dress” and you know what happened to the bomb on the bus. Viva forever, Spice Girls (and their bus driver, Meat Loaf)! [CW]


Want to get really freaked out? Look no further than this docu-dramatization based on the life of Karen from ‘70s family act the Carpenters and her struggle with anorexia, acted by a cast of effing Barbie dolls. The creepiness factor is overwhelming, the subject matter uncomfortable and the voice-acting laughable, but if you can get past that, it’s an ipecac-soaked artful way of showing a deadly disease and the societal pressures on women to look a certain way. [CW]


This is the first film Tom Hanks wrote and only his second time as director, but you'd never know it—it's crisp, vibrant and full of endlessly quotable dialogue. (We've personally exchanged lines with members of Paramore, the Maine, Saves The Day, Plain White T's and many, many more musicians.) It's quite possibly the quintessential rock ’n’ roll movie. The story of the Wonders' quick ascent (and equally fast-paced collapse) is one that bands are able to learn from and hopefully not follow in the footsteps, and there is plenty of humor and heart for the average moviegoer to connect with, too. However, it is downright criminal that the soundtrack isn't on vinyl. Criminal! [SH]

Johnny Cash may have been a country singer, but there are plenty of people in this scene who count him as an influence. (He did cover Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” at age 70, after all.) Walk The Line stars Joaquin Phoenix as the music legend who went from a kid living on a farm in Arkansas during the Great Depression to country-music stardom. Like any icon, Cash had his problems: daddy issues, addiction, infidelity. But he overcame them all, married one hell of a woman and became one of the most iconic country artists—actually, one of the most iconic artists, period—of the 20th century. [BM]

Since one editor who shall remain nameless said Wayne’s World doesn’t qualify as a “rock ’n’ roll” movie, you’ll have to settle for its lesser (but still pretty funny) sequel. After Jim Morrison appears to Wayne in a dream and tells him to organize a music festival, Wayne and his BFF Garth decide to do just that, calling it Waynestock. With a cast that includes Christopher Walken and Kim Basinger, plus a cameo from Aerosmith and three alternate endings, Wayne’s World 2 is a pretty stellar rock ’n’ roll sequel. [BM]

For his 2007 film about the frontman of legendary Los Angeles punk band the Germs, filmmaker Rodger Grossman cast actor Shane West (known for his role on ER) as the equal parts arrogant, vulnerable and doomed Darby Crash, whose stories of excess and rebellion raised the bar for attitude-merchants worldwide. While West’s casting made many old-school, long-in-the-tooth fans livid, the surviving members of the Germs dug the movie—and West—so much, they started touring again with the actor in the frontman spot, including several local California dates on the 2007 and 2008 Warped Tours. The film also includes such kick-ass cameos as the Bronx cast as Black Flag (covering “Police Story”) and grating angular outfit the Mae Shi portraying the legendary synth-punk quartet Screamers. [JP]