You be the judge.
Feuerzeig's documentary accords the brothers Fair the treatment usually reserved for eminences grises of the business - the Pauls and Johns, the Micks and Keiths.
From early footage of the brothers banging away in their Michigan living room to a rooftop concert in Baltimore, the film depicts the band's quixotic evolution from blurt-and-splurt proto-hardcore punk-rockers to sensitive songsmiths.
Of course, there are the requisite testimonials. If the music fails to convince, Feuerzeig has corralled friends of the band to testify to its greatness.
Picasso, Margaret Thatcher and Pee-wee Herman were apparently unavailable for comment. But Mo Tucker, former drummer for the Velvet Underground; Gerard Cosloy, CEO of Matador Records; and Penn Jillette of the comedy duo Penn and Teller all weigh in with encomiums heavy enough to sink a ship.
The talking heads don't just praise Half Japanese to the heavens, they also take potshots at corporate-driven rock and roll. Tucker - whose former band dwelled on heroin, transsexuals and sado-masochism - reveals why she won't let her children watch MTV. Cosloy dismisses Nirvana and declares Rolling Stone magazine ``evil'' - in part for not putting Jad and David on its cover. Jillette describes how he strong-armed the rights to Half Japanese's greatest album away from a record company to release it on his own 50 Skidillion Watts in the Hands of Babies record label.
But in the end, it's Half Japanese's wide-eyed songs about love and monsters that make the band's strongest case and forcefully argue how influential its music has been on independent rock over the last two decades.
HALF JAPANESE: THE BAND THAT WOULD BE KING * * *
Produced, written, photographed and directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, music by Half Japanese, distributed by Morganville Films.
Running time: 1:30
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (boorish would-be rock moguls, obscenity, abrasive noise).
Showing at: Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St., at 7:30 and 10 tonight, and at Fergie's Pub (upstairs), 1214 Sansom St., at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. (Director Feuerzeig will hold an informal Q&A after the two Painted Bride showings. Admission to Fergie's Pub is restricted to age 21 and over.)