Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren’s Heavy Trip relays the story of an upstart heavy metal band’s journey towards their long standing dream of reaching stardom. Turo, who is also the main protagonist for the film, is part of a four man band whose name was unknown despite having been formed years prior. The other members of the unnamed band are Lotvonen, Jynkky, and Pasi. Combined with a unique cast of larger than life individuals, Heavy Trip is able to tackle factual matters ludicrously without overselling nor underselling the punchline. From start to finish, Heavy Trip is able to present itself as a familiar and comedic narrative of how the underdogs slowly gain their rightful place without taking itself too seriously.
The familiarity with Heavy Trip immediately arises from the very beginning of the film. Few minutes into the film, it isn’t made a secret how these four men are perceived in their small town. Their outlandish appearances and interest in heavy metal music has turned them into good for nothing outcasts—a nameless band with, quite literally, nothing to their name. Heavy Trip capitalizes on this familiar, Hollywood style narrative of redemption for the band of misfits who seems to have nothing right going for them. Perhaps this is the magic that the film has up its sleeve. It takes the familiarity of the said Hollywood trope and morphs it in its own idiosyncratic, Finnish way. Touches such as how Lotvonen’s day job is working at his family’s reindeer farm bolsters the film’s uniquely Finnish mark.
For a film that has heavy metal music so deeply ingrained into it, I believe that the direction it took was a necessary one. Having heavy metal music as the focal point is a difficult challenge to overcome. This genre of music, to the casual listener, is typically foreign territory due to it being commonly seen as an acquired taste. The almost incoherent lyrics combined with harsh instrumentals often cause the unfamiliar to stray away almost completely and immediately. However, heavy metal did not become a hindrance towards the film, but instead enriched the narrative even further. What Heavy Trip capitalized on is the endearing qualities of its cast, bolstered even further by the protagonists’ love for heavy metal. The audience is deeply immersed in the journey which the band takes towards there long sought after stardom. The gradual build up from their practice in Lotvonen’s basement, to creating their very first demo tape, to finally playing at Northern Damnation in Norway allows viewers to naturally root for these misunderstood underdogs.
Comedic up to the last minute, Heavy Trip rightfully pays tribute to its heavy metal roots while maintaining its distinct Finnish flair. Rather than alienating with heavy metal music, it chose to take a lighter and less serious approach to it. It presented the genre in a universal manner through the relationship of individuals who have been deeply invested into it. If one thing can be said, love for music is transcendental and the film capitalized on it excellently.