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‘Groove’ will have you dancin’ in your seat

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GROOVE — *** — Lola Glaudini, Hamish Linklater, Denny Kirkwood, Mackensie Firgens, Steve Van Wormer, Rachel True, Vincent Riverside, Ari Gold; rated R (drug use, profanity, brief sex, vulgarity); exclusively at the Tower Theatre.

You don't have to be a veteran raver to get into this "Groove."

Not that it would hurt, mind you. But this rave-culture comedy-drama is a nice little change of pace, one that features an appealing cast of fresh faces and an infectious sense of fun. The fact that it's got a beat you can dance to doesn't hurt, either.

Admittedly, it's not exactly earth-shattering material, and, to be honest, it's not an original idea (in fact, the plot is eerily similar to that of the movie "Go," except that it lacks all the "Pulp Fiction"-esque violence and the big-name cast).

And yes, perhaps it's not the most responsible of films (in particular, it kind of goes soft on the whole subject of drug use among partygoers). But if it does one thing particularly well, it really nails what it's like to attend an underground, all-night rave.

The story takes place over the course of a day, beginning with attempts by rave organizer Ernie Townshend (Steve Van Wormer) to find a site for his planned party. He finds a seemingly ideal spot in the form of an abandoned warehouse in San Francisco's industrial district.

From there, it's simply a matter of getting the word out, which is done largely by e-mail. Those planning to attend include Leyla (newcomer Lola Glaudini), an inveterate raver who has trouble settling down in one place and with one person.

Then there's Colin (Denny Kirkwood) and his girlfriend Harmony (Mackensie Firgens), who try to get Colin's brother David (Hamish Linklater) to go with them.

This somewhat strait-laced technical writer is still reluctant to go, though, and seemingly with good reason — especially after he starts to freak out (under the influence of drugs, naturally). Fortunately, he's "rescued" by Leyla, who comforts him.

However, even as this would-be couple starts to click, cracks start appearing in Colin and Harmony's supposedly solid relationship.

There are other running subplots, including a young DJ's unsuccessful attempts to get the crowd dancing, as well as the efforts of a gay couple to find the not-so-secret location for the rave.

But the story wisely concentrates on Glaudini and Linklater, who are very likable.

In all, it's pretty auspicious beginning for veteran movie-editor Greg Harrison, who makes his feature-filmmaking debut here and benefits from his own tight editing, as well as some good cinematography by Matthew Irving.

Of course, the well-chosen score (which is sure to be playing at a dance club near you) and cameos by real-life DJ celebrities like John Digweed and DJ Polywog certainly don't hurt, either.

"Groove" is rated R for rampant drug use (including various amphetamines and hallucinogenics), occasional strong profanity, a brief sex scene, as well as some sexual contact and some crude humor. Running time: 86 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com