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Misunderstood pop star anarchist Dunstan Bruce and his misfit band of miscreant musicians are the subjects of the new hybrid documentary, I Get Knocked Down. Directed by Bruce and Sophie Robinson, The film looks back at the phenomenal rise of the band Chumbawumba with their worldwide hit “Tubthumping”, the band’s ignominious fall from fame, and the existential wasteland that Bruce finds himself in years later. The cheeky doc bounces between archival footage and interviews with band members and mixes it with staged scenes of Bruce dealing with his inner demon, a snarky figure wearing a mask. The real footage and recollections are far more effective than any of the moments of inner dialogue resulting in an informative but occasionally frustrating experience.

We open on Dunstan Bruce, 59 years old, walking his dog. Barely recognizable from his glory days he is still a charming, smartly dressed malcontent who is bitterly angry but with far less energy to express it. He and his bandmates were once filled with rage at the social establishment. Their platinum album was supposed to offer them a platform for activism. We all know how things went. But after so long would Bruce find a way to regain his creative voice once more? A new project is floating in Bruce’s head. One that he hopes will revive his passion and put him back on the scene. He just has to convince his former bandmates to join him.

We first visit former Chumbawumbarian Alice Nutter. Living in a modest, charmingly eclectic home, she recalls just why she joined the self-proclaimed pop anarchist band. though as she puts it she was “un-musical,” she just really wanted to be IN a band. We then visit former member Harry Hammer during a performance at a local theatre. Again, the leap from punk band to musical theatre is mined for examination and the yields are both poignant and sad. The two seem to have resigned themselves to the advance of age, but Bruce yearns for much more resolution, much less satisfaction.

I Get Knocked Down starts to take flight when Bruce and his bandmates recall the past over archival footage. Who knew that this precocious pop confection came from the punk world? We learn about how this odd mix of characters came together, where they lived, who inspired them including The Fall, Adam and the Ants, and Crass. We learn of their long years of critical rejection and activism that were suddenly met with a meteoric rise to worldwide fame. This is followed by a rather fascinating examination of the term mainstream, and what a rebel might do should they be pulled into it. Does it invalidate the message?

In the end, I Get Knocked Down aims to examine the validity of the punk message while giving frontman Bruce a platform to share his new project. Despite being jaded by his experience in the limelight, Bruce still yearns for the platform in hopes of using it again, this time more effectively. I Get Knocked Down, while unable to resist cinematic gimmicks, still manages to get its story across and pose some questions worth pondering.

I Get Knocked Down – 6/10