The tall, ferret-thin frontman for “Gypsy-punk” band Gogol Bordello—a Ukrainian immigrant named Eugene Hutz—probably weighs in at about 150 pounds soaking wet; his prodigious, old-school handlebar mustache might account for a third of that. Clad in a thrift-store military costume, this heir apparent to Iggy Pop bounds about while older Eastern European musicians and New York hipsters bash out Romany-folk-meets-fuck-you-rock tunes behind him. If only the sinewy singer could’ve imparted his live-wire charisma to this documentary on the group he founded, the film might have ended up as manic and heartfelt as Gogol Bordello’s go-for-broke hybrid ditties.
That energy gets lost in translation in Margarita Jimeno’s earnest, half-formed portrait, however, and what’s left is merely a curiously listless, VH1-friendly primer. Granted, the movie does make a case for Hutz being a pro-assimilation embodiment of the American Dream: Come to the U.S. penniless; end up playing on the Conan O’Brien show. But the songs themselves are rarely given a chance to register, and footage of Gogol Bordello’s notoriously raucous live shows gets WTF-shortened into snippets. Nor does the film give any sense of how the band operates in any bigger-picture spheres (underground music, mix-and-match ethnography). Non Stop doesn’t know how to hit it and quit; it’s a rock doc that screams loud and says frustratingly little.