Held up for years because of legal battles between current and former Lynyrd Sknyrd members, Street Survivors is more of an Artimus Pyle biopic (no music by Lynyrd Sknyrd is used) than a film about the famed Southern rock band. Written and directed by Jared Cohn, Street Survivors is about the first-person experience of Pyle (Ian Shultis), who was with the band in 1974 until the plane crash in 1977, and later from 1987 to 1991. In place of Sknyrd tunes, we get what passes for rock and roll ambience–numerous scenes of people partying and yelling.
Sued by heirs of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines as well as founding lead guitarist Gary Rossington, Pyle is apparently legally prohibited from participating in a film that tells the full Lynyrd Skynyrd story, so while it might not have been Jared Cohn’s artistic choice to keep some of the band members undefined, that’s the reality, though doomed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant (Taylor Clift) gets ample screen time as a mythological figure in Pyle’s story.
Once the real Pyle delivers his onscreen prelude, the movie joins up with a Shultis’ Pyle, a young man banging on the drums in his garage when he gets the call that Van Zant is interested in having him fill in for a drummer who’s on the outs with the already popular band. Just a few minutes later, the film flashes forward to October of ’77 a few days before the fateful crash. Perhaps to its credit, the film doesn’t attempt to portray the band members as saints. They’re as rowdy as one might expect. Ronnie Van Zandt is shown beating up a guy for harassing a woman one moment, and the forcefully ripping off another woman’s top seconds later.
No matter though. There isn’t much of a story here. This movie isn’t about the band or the music, but rather the Lynyrd Sknyrd plane crash which is never allowed to wander far from our minds. “What a piece of junk,” one of the band members says upon first seeing the CV-240 passenger aircraft that would carry them to their doom. The thirty-year-old plane had already been rejected by Aerosmith as a tour vehicle. In voiceover, Pyle tells us Van Zant didn’t think he’d live to 30. “He was 29 when he was killed. He told me that he wanted to go out with his boots on.”
Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash isn’t about the band, but a sad, exploitive attempt to tell the decidedly less interesting hagiography of Artimus Pyle.
Presented in the 2.67:1 aspect ratio, this 1080i transfer is pretty soft looking throughout. Details are decent when lighting allows. There are some combing artifacts visible during quick movements.
Though not apparent on the setup menu, you can toggle between Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks via the audio button on your remote. The surround track opens up the forgettable musical elements and a bit of an oomph during the crash sequence. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Surviving Street Survivors (HD, 127:23) A Making-of-Documentary that provides lots of behind-the-scenes footage.
- Slideshow (HD, 3:29)
- Trailer (HD, 2:20)
Street Survivors - The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash (2020)
Movie title: Street Survivors - The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
Duration: 90 min.
Director(s): Jared Cohn
Actor(s): Sarah French, Jon Briddell, Kelly Lynn Reiter, ,