Air Guitar Nation Alexandra Lipsitz

You can keep your spelling bee films and your crossword puzzle pictures — my favourite competition doc works on a far less cerebral plane. That would be Air Guitar Nation, a work that deals not just with the popular practice but the contest that sends its lucky winners to Finland to compete for the title of "air guitar god.”

The film begins innocently enough with a group of New York organisers who are incensed that the world competition has until now excluded America; they throw their collective hat into the ring unaware of the sensation they will cause. Not only do they attract enormous audiences with lines around the block but they start a war of licks.

American champ David "C-Diddy” Jung (the one with Hello Kitty on his chest) is constantly challenged by wiry runner-up Dan "Bjorn Turoque” Crane; it’s a battle royal that stretches all the way to the Finland finals. Crane’s total refusal to accept defeat (especially in the face of Jung’s apparent gentle charm) makes for a surprisingly thrilling movie — despite his motormouth arrogance and inability to see the forest for the trees, he injects tension into the film that would otherwise be lacking. But in their divergent devotion to the sport both champion and challenger embody the virtues of competitive air guitar: the ability to play like a pro when lack of skill keeps you from playing the real thing.

The 15 minutes enjoyed by the participants (including the heroes’ fellow contestants, all of whom are big fun) seem like a great way to pass the time, as does, in the final analysis, this movie. You won’t learn any new words but you will appreciate some new hand signals.

(Maple)