The Real McCoy is an unusual portrait of the 35-year-old Finnish “living legend” Andy McCoy (formerly Antti Hulkko), whose career began as guitar player in the band Hanoi Rocks in the early 80s. Andy’s life as rock-star is marked by alternating dark and bright sides: drugs, concerts, life on the road, and no compromises. The film’s story is defined by Andy’s falling off a third floor balcony: his 1998 hospital stay is the basis for takeoffs on travels and tales in his mind. The tales are told by his three alter egos, which represent the different sides of his personality. Andy McFly is his scary and dark side, whose wings take him to worlds he can only reach when drowsy. Gandhi McCoy is Andy’s spiritual advisor. And finally, Alexander Hulkov, Andy’s great-grandfather of Russian Romany origin, sets him the task of finding the keys to Heaven’s Gate. The film is a mix of fact and fiction, and is not limited to showing only the physical Andy on stage, in the studio, with his colleagues and his wife. The film is special because it insists on bringing us inside Andy’s mind. The film’s soundtrack was written by Andy himself, and functions as part of his inner universe.
The concept of The Real McCoy is faithful to its main character. The aesthetic madness and anarchic mixture of styles fit Andy’s personality, and his grotesque humour marks the film, which attempts to portray Andy as he sees himself. A wonderful scene where Andy undergoes an operation deserves mention: constantly aware of the camera and doped with tranquillizers and painkillers, Andy jokes about instruments and hospital staff, and the situation during the operation turns into an absurd music-video scene with the number “Mind over Matter.” Welcome to the world of McCoy!
The weak side of the film is that it dwells too much on certain scenes, such as when Andy and his wife go to India, as well as their subsequent break-up. And the sudden almost “happy ending” seems forced and too easy, especially when we have seen that Andy’s life is anything but easy.
Still, in spite of the fact that Andy is “on stage” even in his hospital bed, the film gives the feeling that we do meet the real McCoy through a combination of staged and unstaged settings – an example of the latter being when an unhappy and drunk Andy threatens to smash the camera when being filmed in a bar. Andy McCoy is obviously a complex character. It is through their filmic interplay that filmmaker Pekka Lehto succeeds at reaching him.