What We Do Is Secret
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What We Do Is Secret
The true-life story of Darby Crash, who became a Los Angeles punk icon before taking his own life in 1980, provides the background for this gritty musical biopic. Not long after getting kicked out of an experimental high school in Los Angeles, charismatic misfit and major David Bowie fan Jan Paul Beahm (Shane West) announces that he wants to form a rock band. With his best friend Georg Ruthenberg (Rick Gonzalez), Beahm creates a group called the Germs, mainly because their first choice, "Sophistif--k and the Revlon Spam Queens" costs too much to put on a T-shirt. Beahm appoints… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"While What We Do Is Secret may not be remembered for much more than West's performance, it's an impersonation worth saluting."
‑ John Hartl, Seattle Times
"First-time writer-director Rodger Grossman bangs out a visceral, energized biopic that captures the vibrant idiocy of punked-out youth and a tortured soul gaining his wish of cult status."
‑ Michael Ordoņa, Los Angeles Times
"Long live the baby monsters."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"West is magnetic trying to fill the gaps in the pop psychology insight into how the Germs' brief candle burned out so fast, with performances, "interviews" and flashbacks."
‑ Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward.com
"The battering live shows prove West's dedication to the role, but as always there's too little insight into both music and musicians and too much period design"
‑ Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly
"Some of the supporting performances, like those of Phillips and Gonzalez, are very strong, but it's West who lifts the entire film to a whole other level."
‑ David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
"A labor of love for writer-director Rodger Grossman, this entertaining if superficial biopic chronicles the rise and fall of LA punk pioneers the Germs."
‑ J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"A docudrama with the production qualities of a made-for-MTV movie about a band that recorded one album and never finished a gig and whose lead singer was a fascist poseur."
‑ Sonny Bunch, Washington Times
"Despite its thorough attention to historical detail and the obvious love of all involved for their shattered subject, What We Do Is Secret is, in the end, awfully sterile for a movie about the Germs."
‑ Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
"The faux interview preserves Darby Crash's self-image, the reenactment in What We Do Is Secret remembers the preservation."
‑ Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters
"Despite a terrific performance from Shane West, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Crash, Secret is a chronology, not a biopic."
‑ Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Where What We Do Is Secret succeeds is in the performances which (and this a compliment, I think) sometimes expose a stilted, amateurish strain that's oddly in tune with the characters' D.I.Y. aesthetic."
‑ Jim Emerson, Chicago Sun-Times
"In sure hands, What We Do Is Secret could have been a fine rock'n'roll biopic."
‑ Stan Hall, Oregonian
"The final scenes of Secret are its best and, ironically, the original Germs' final moments were said to be their best, too."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Grossman's movie never delves much below the surface."
‑ Richard Knight, Windy City Times
More reviews for What We Do Is Secret on Rotten Tomatoes