Welcome to the 8th Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. Influenced, one suspects, by repeated viewings of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure — in which a whimsically wind-milling air guitar solo is the signature salutation of a utopian future — the festival's founders believe they're bringing about world peace. A man with an air guitar in his hands, they reason, is unable to hold a gun. As Bjorn Turoque (the stage persona of Dan Crane) puts it in an interview: “To ere is human, to air guitar is divine.”
In the hilarious Air Guitar Nation, however, it's not Crane who is the air apparent to the U.S. and world titles. That mantle — as well as a red kimono and a Hello Kitty breastplate — rest on the shoulders of David “C-Diddy” Jung, whose wildly winning stage persona is a self-described combination of “classical technique” and “Asian fury.” “I feel like I'm going to out-weird the world — period,” proclaims Jung.
Alexandra Lipsitz's documentary follows the very real competition between these fake guitarists as the commissioners of U.S. Air Guitar search for a champion with the chops to take “America's unofficial pastime” out of the bedroom and onto the world stage.
Although Air Guitar Nation is a documentary, Lipsitz stumbled across a couple of compelling characters in Jung and Crane, who are anything but n' air -do-wells. A self-proclaimed “ambassador of air,” the catchphrase-coining Crane is a contributing writer to publications such as the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Slate.com. Jung is the son of Korean immigrants who wanted him to become a doctor, but he confounded their expectations by earning an MFA in acting instead of an MD. Watching his proud parents throw up the “metal horns” after a performance is one of the most touching moments in this delightful doc. “C-Diddy,” Jung confesses, “gets to do the things I've always wanted to do.”
Not to mention deliver performances that inspire real-life rockers like Tom Morello (Audioslave) and Nina Gordon (Veruca Salt) to stand up and cheer.
Cast: David “C-Diddy” Jung and Dan “Bjorn Turoque” Crane
Director: Alexandra Lipsitz
Producers: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz and Anna Barber
Rating: R for some language and brief nudity
Running time: 78 min.
Release date: March 23, 2007