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The Dogmatics: A Dogumentary

average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Jun 8, 2023

Film Reviews
The Dogmatics: A Dogumentary
Directed by:
Rudy Childs
Written by:
Rudy Childs, JJ Johnson, Jada Maxwell
Jerry Lehane, Tommy Long, Paul Lovell, Peter O'Halloran

Established back in 1981, The Dogmatics, a quartet who were “no different than any other talentless, self-deprecating, beer-swilling, girl-chasing lunkheads with guitars” and who are still active to this day, started what would become their undying legacy as part of the iconic Boston Music scene, a city that birthed such acts as Aerosmith, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Modern Lovers, a city boasting a musical legacy that could easily rival others such as London, New York and Seattle.


Of course, it’s likely that you may have never even heard of The Dogmatics, let alone have them in any of your playlists. But with The Dogmatics: A Dogumentary, filmmaker Rudy Childs, who is no stranger to chronicling a bands history, is here to tell you what you’ve been missing. From their inception from their derelict loft on Thayer Street all the way to present day, we are treated to a deep-dive into a group many considered to be “Boston’s House band”, talented to the point where perhaps if they wanted to, they could have really made the big time, but all they really wanted was to just play some tunes and drink some beers.


And for this you can’t help but be a bit smitten by the charm of the film's subjects, and a lot of that is thanks to Childs approach in how he brings us into this world. Using a simple combination of uncovered archive footage and talking head interviews, Dogumentary feels like kicking back and watching home videos of your favourite old band you never knew you had, put together very much with that ever-lasting punk ethos, simple but brilliantly effective, no big bells and whistles, just all the right hooks in all the right places.


It’s very much like a greatest hits compilation for most of the runtime (and there are a lot of greats to enjoy), with various insights and back-stories celebrating the bands discography. But the film goes much deeper than simply dropping the needle on the old 45s so we can hear those records one more time. What really made these “lunkheads with guitars” a force to be reckoned with wasn’t just their talent, but their comradery and the times and towns they lived in as well, their Boston Irish Catholic roots and upbringing instilled not only in their fluency as musicians but they’re relatability as people, their music bridging all kinds of normally very disparate and distant musical communities, the hard-core, the punks, the metalheads, and even the rockabillies.


But as much as the film lets you sit back and enjoy the tunes as the good times roll for a good hour or so, it's also quite poignant in its final third as well when the piece comes to detailing the grief and shock the group suffer at losing band-mate, band co-founder and band bassist Paul O’Halloran, with us watching the band move through this tragedy as a whole city and musical movement comes together in tribute. And because of all the hard work done before this, it allows us to feel it too, another testament to how Childs has put this all together.


Childs’ is a “dogumentary” brimming with passion and love. Even if you’ve never heard of “Boston’s House Band” before this, chances are you’ll not be able to stop listening afterwards. Look out for it on the festival circuit soon.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Indie Feature Film, Documentary, Film Festival
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