The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

rock-afire explosion poster 2008 showbiz pizza band documentary
7.0 Overall Score

Fun nostalgia


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Rock-afire Explosion

Studio:  Connell Creations

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  2008 (Austin Film Festival)/September 29, 2009 (DVD)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

rock-afire explosion band showbiz pizza documentary

Get ready to rock!!!

Showbiz Pizza was where a kid could be a kid and the stars of Showbiz Pizza were the Rock-afire Explosion.  The Rock-afire Explosion was the hottest band in town and made up of Billy Bob Brockali, his friend Looney Bird, Fatz Geronimo, Dook LaRue, Mitzi Mozzarella, Beach Bear, and Rolfe DeWolfe and Earl Schemerie.  The band wasn’t a traditional band in fact, they weren’t human.  The robots of the Rock-afire Explosion inspired people and fans over the years until the “band” broke-up and Showbiz Pizza folded into Chucky E. Cheese.  The band’s creator Aaron Fechter finds that his band has inspired people around the globe and now with the internet, the band is back…and the fans can’t be happier.

Directed by Brett Whitcomb, The Rock-afire Explosion is a documentary about the kids’ themed Showbiz Pizza and the animatronic band that performed there.  The documentary premiered at the Austin Film Festival in 2008 and received a DVD release in 2009.

rockafire explosion dook larue drummer showbiz pizza

Ok…he doesn’t have the tats like the other guy…but he’s really into Showbiz

If you were a kid in the mid-’80s, Showbiz Pizza was the birthday hang-out.  I know I had one birthday there and went to multiple parties there.  The horror-terror of the Rock-afire Explosion and Billy Bob saying your name was a childhood rite of passage…and it is nice to revisit the time in this kind of odd documentary.

Though I like revisiting the childhood, I don’t know that it makes me feel good about the fact that I like revisiting my childhood.  I love the modern takes on the Rock-afire Explosion with reworked new songs, but the fan base interviewed by the crew makes me say “are these really my people?”…and like it or not, the answer is probably yes.

The movie is an odd balance between almost mocking the people in the movie and honoring them.  The two main “characters” of the film are the band’s creator Aaron Fechter (who also invented Whack-a-Mole) and Mountain Dew-loving uber fan Chris Thrash.  Fechter comes off as completely odd and has one of the most uncomfortable interviews with his fan-girl turned wife.  Thrash pulled off something amazing by recreating the Rock-afire Explosion for his home, but his persona is a bit off.  He seems to love bringing the Rock-afire Explosion to a new generation, but his childlike view gives him a bit of a Michael Jackson feel (but to be clear there is no indication that there is anything as off as Michael Jackson).

rock-afire explosion 2008 creator aaron fechter documentary

I just want more on Aaron’s creation of Whack-a-Mole

The real stars of the movie are the Rock-afire Explosion, and I wish that the documentary was more about Showbiz and its rise and fall.  It is covered a bit by Aaron Fechter, but seeing the characters and their performances are the best part of the movie…it is a real connection to childhood which is another reason I can’t fault Thrash…I get it.

The Rock-afire Explosion is an uneven documentary that is primarily for kids of the ’80s who hung out at Showbiz (and not the bastardization of Chuck-E-Cheese’s).  Showbiz was as its slogan said…a place to be a kid.  You could jump in a ball pit, play skee-ball, spend the day watching Dragon’s Lair, or take home an eraser for all you hard work and tickets…it was heaven.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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