Joe Rasnick (Michael J Fox) scrapes together a living and plays in a band (the Barbusters) in his spare time with his sister Patti (Joan Jett), who has a young child. They find it hard to make ends meet but decide to go on the road, despite the vigorous objections of their religious mother (Gena Rowlands).
Writer/director Paul Schrader’s attempt to graft his favourite theme of moral redemption on to a story of rock ‘n’ roll gets hopelessly bogged down in the sort of soul-searching and family strife one finds in Arthur Miller or Eugene O’Neill plays.
To make things worse, Fox is badly miscast as a factory worker-cum-rock singer from small-time, working-class Cleveland.
The film stumbles towards that most wretched of movie clichés – the terminal disease – which provokes even more soul-searching.
The title song is by Bruce Springsteen. Legend has it that Paul Schrader sent Springsteen a movie script called Born in the USA about a Rust Belt bar band, hoping to get him to star.
Springsteen instead appropriated the title for his most famous album and, as repayment, donated the roadhouse rocker Light of Day to Schrader for the film.
Michael J Fox
Thomas G Waites
Paul J Harkins
Billy L Sullivan
Reverend John Ansley