Rock Docs: Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone (2006) - Reviewed

What is there to say about The Ramones that has not been said since the band played their last set on August 6th, 1996. The Ramones were the first band I can remember that truly mystified me growing up. There was something truly sinister about these four kids from Queens with their matching biker jackets and haircuts. There was a darkness about this band backed by their trademark buzzsaw throb that has gone on to be a global inspiration during and after their reign. There has never been a band in history more imitated than the mighty Ramones. 

Sadly, at the time of this writing, all of the original members of The Ramones have sadly left us, with Tommy Ramone being the last one to pass in 2014. Too Tough To Die runs two threads within its eighty minute running time, one of the benefit concert in honor of The Ramones thirtieth anniversary that happened just two days before Johnny’s unfortunate death, and also a documentary on The Ramones leaning on Johnny predominantly.

Too Tough To Die is a literal parade of superstars who all offer their respect, stories, and love to their fallen Brother. Coupled with the live footage from the benefit show, the mood of Too Tough To Die is intended to be intense and light-hearted, but a feeling of sadness hangs like a black cloud over as you move through the film. For any true Ramones fan, this sadness comes from our fallen Brother Johnny also. We get to learn a lot about Johnny and get to learn about all of his traits as a person, good and bad. For a force like Johnny Ramone, you do not have to agree with him, but you damn sure will respect him.

As Too Tough To Die comes to a close, it is a hard watch for a true Ramones fan. Too Tough To Die much like any of The Ramones mortality rates ends too soon for me. That is not a real stab at the film, but again, a true Ramones fan does not want it to end, but the reality of it is with the exception of later members consisting of CJ, Marky, and Richie Ramone, our hero's have moved on.

Too Tough To Die is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest guitar players in history and is essential viewing for any Ramones fan. GABBA GABBA HEY!

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- Scott W. Lambert