ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"The Go-Go's" Movie Review

Updated on August 7, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life, he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Go-Go's
The Go-Go's | Source

The recent spate of music documentaries has given us behind-the-scenes access into everyone from Taylor Swift (Miss Americana) to the late Michael Hutchence (Mystify) to Joan Jett (Bad Reputation), with varying results. It’s easy, it seems, for filmmakers to rely on the model that VH1’s acclaimed Behind the Music series honed to perfection—relying primarily on archival clips and present-day interviews to hit the melodrama hard without really getting too deep or personal.

But where Miss Americana and Mystify succeeded (and Bad Reputation failed) was in their ability to reveal something new that completely changed the audience’s perspective. And that’s exactly what makes The Go-Go’s new documentary so memorable, too.

Directed by Alison Ellwood (American Jihad), The Go-Go’s (streaming on Showtime) not only ushers us through the band’s evolution in the late-70s L.A. punk scene through their disastrous breakup and beyond, but it also takes time throughout its 98-minute duration to let us in on plenty of secrets—not the salacious kind but the ones that take us into the fascinating world on the other side of the curtain. Along with learning what made the band so harmonious on-stage and off-, we hear from everyone involved (Martha Quinn, Kathleen Hanna, and Stewart Copeland are just a few), and the result is one of the more insightful and fascinating documentaries (music-based or otherwise) in recent years.

Any child of the 80s knows at least a few of their names—Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Charlotte Caffey, and Gina Schock—and, of course, the hits, from “We Got the Beat” to “Vacation” to “Head Over Heels”. They were the first all-female band to write their own songs, play their own instruments, and have a number one album. And they’re still not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (an egregious fact that we’re reminded of several times during Ellwood’s film). But have even the most devout Go-Go-heads of the world ever heard the names Margot Olavarria and Elissa Bello, the band’s original bassist and drummer? You will now. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While the opening half-hour of The Go-Go’s uses ancient grainy footage and Polaroids to focus on the band’s evolution, we don’t really get to the meat of the film until the time the band makes it big in the early 80s—thanks in large part to manager Ginger Canzoneri, whose story could fill two hours just by itself. From fun facts (the band had to return the white towels they donned on the Beauty and the Beat album cover, because they couldn’t afford to keep them) to horrifying realities (Caffey and Wiedlin may have never made it past age 25 had they not been in the band), The Go-Go’s gives us everything and more—raw, often heart-wrenching, and brutally honest.

The band has indeed been eligible for Rock Hall induction for more than 15 years now, and when the dust settles on Ellwood’s documentary, it’s most obvious than ever what a glaring omission that is. (The film even posits a decent guess at the petulance behind it.) While fans can hope The Go-Go’s may finally help earn the ladies the recognition they deserve, there’s no denying that they are firmly in the realm of rock royalty. And (bonus!) they recorded a new song for the film just to put an exclamation point on it.


4/5 stars

'The Go-Go's' trailer


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)