You might not know who Neil Bogart was, but you probably know the records he worked on. A legendary record exec who gambled big on acts like Kiss, Donna Summer, and Bill Withers, Bogart founded Casablanca Records in 1973, taking out mob loan after mob loan until the label turned a profit years later. Now he’s the subject of a slightly hokey biopic, Spinning Gold, which just so happens to be written and directed by his son, Timothy Scott Bogart. (Another son, Evan, worked as the production’s music supervisor.)
A fawning and occasionally ham-fisted portrayal of the elder Bogart, Spinning Gold sees the Casablanca founder turning almost everything he touches turn to gold, save his first marriage, which he runs into the ground after falling in love with another woman. If the movie is to be believed, the goofy-looking Bogart (played by Broadway star Jeremy Jordan) was responsible for the success of basically every track you love from the 60s and 70s, from “Wooly Bully” to “YMCA.”
While that might be true—Bogart’s sons have insisted in the press that it is—the movie suffers from a lack of objectivity about its subject as well as from a lack of vision about the film’s true direction. It’s got trippy interludes, Bohemian Rhapsody-like “screw you” record exec moments, and The Kid Stays In The Picture-style narration, but none of it gels in a way that’s anywhere near as exciting or interesting as those references might make it sound. If there’s a high point to be found, it’s Spinning Gold’s stunt musical casting, which finds Wiz Khalifa playing a comically eccentric George Clinton, Jason Derulo playing the very driven Ron Isley, and Tayla Parx playing disco diva Donna Summer, among others. R, 137 min.