"Just Around the Corner" Has Heart but a Muddled Premise Review

“It’s about Bob.”

It’s Bob’s birthday and it’s time for a party. Bob Benjamin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 38. He had been an athletic guy who was in the music business for a long time. Refusing to give up when diagnosed, he started the Light of Day foundation which, on his birthday, puts on a rock show to raise money for Parkinson’s research.

Just Around the Corner (2011) features artists like Ed Kowalczyk (from Live), Bruce Springsteen, and John Rzeznik (from Goo Goo Dolls) from Light of Day (LOD) concerts past who occasionally take a seat across from the camera and share stories about Bob and the idea of the LOD foundation as well as Bob's family, friends, and doctors who give their own perspectives on Bob and his condition.

This isn’t a concert show that you’d recognize like The Last Waltz (1978). This is more talking heads than banging heads. And while Bob’s a great guy, they’ve got a pretty great set to show off and they just dip in and out. They’ve got a narrative they want to tell—obligingly arranged in chapters—that introduces Bob, the Light of Day shows and its successes, and Parkinson’s the disease. But the directors, Steve Caniff and Jim Justice, don’t quite put it together.

The mixture of goals tends to disappoint any viewer. If you want to hear the music, you’ll be disappointed you didn’t get to hear more. The international phenomenon relies on the music, so that’s a possibly unforgiveable flaw. If you want to hear about Bob and his story, you’ll still be left wanting unless you’re interested in platitudes. It’s too bad because he’s got a great story to tell and the three-part balance they’ve tried to create turns the dramatic elements into highlights. If you want a documentary on Parkinson’s, then you’ll get one specialist and a bunch of anecdotes until the last ten minutes. Less than perfect. 

You’ll observe that the best documentaries will begin with short, big statements to set the stage and then tell a full narrative with the most important theme to close out. But Caniff and Justice use the heart of the film, the part that establishes your opinion of the documentary, is a repetition of people (who don’t seem to know Bob too well) saying how great Bob is. Let the band sing the songs, let Bob show us how great he is because he does it far better than these other people do.

It’s hard to hate on the movie, though. The name of the production company says it all: Flat Broke productions. To the people who made the documentary, to those familiar with Bob and Light of Day, to those with Parkinson’s, this may be a moving tale of hope, determination, and rock and roll. Perhaps it is. But it could be even better if they presented it from low to high. A documentary isn’t that different from a fictional story. Start with the exposition of Bob’s story. Bob’s had a tough time and telling that story sets the stakes in rising action. The first climax is the beginning of the Light of Day show and foundation. The second is his “freeze” and near-death experience. And then the dénouement.

Play us out Bruce.

DVD Bonus Features

There are none.

"Just Around the Corner" is on sale September 25, 2012 and is not rated. Documentary. Directed by Jim Justice, Steve Caniff. Starring Bob Benjamin, Bruce Springsteen, Danny Clinch, Danny White, Ed Kowalczyk, Jesse Malin, Joe Durso, Joe Gushecky, Marah, Michael J Fox, Vincent Pastore, Willie Nile.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.


New Reviews