A Simple Celebration: Beastie Boys Story

by Pete Crigler

beastieboysstory_300When MCA died of cancer in 2013 and the Beasties were put to bed, it was a very sad time for music fans. In the ensuing years, Ad-Rock and Mike D have put together a truly excellent coffee table book of their career and an even better audiobook where they had friends and famous fans read various stories from the book. Then, in 2019, it was announced the guys would be staging live shows directed by longtime friend Spike Jonze where they recounted in-person various stories from the book and the highs and lows of their career. One of these shows was filmed and we now have the official Beastie Boys documentary available on Apple TV.

This is probably the simplest documentary I’ve seen lately; it’s just Mike D and Ad-Rock on a stage with essentially a fancy PowerPoint presentation behind them with photos, music, and film clips, but it works so damn well. The band is just so likable and have so many great stories that you can’t help but laugh and feel at every story they bring up.

The fact that Ad-Rock and Mike D have been friends for so long is highly visible on screen. They get off telling jokes to each other and ribbing each other for bad hair, clothes, and the like. It’s infectious and it helps push the movie along. True, albums like To The 5 Boroughs and Hot Sauce Committee don’t get a lot of representation, but all their best albums are almost exhaustively discussed.

All their problems with their early image and Rick and Russell at Def Jam are the center of the film in my opinion because by breaking free from their goofball image that made them famous, they were able to become their own artists and, as a result, became one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time. This film is a celebration of everything: the heights of success and the crushing loss of MCA. It’s a story of friendship, music, and life. It’s great. Just watch it.
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