How punk is Broadway? About as punk as Green Day, which is to say about as punk as a shopping mall Hot Topic. The band formed in Berkeley in 1987 (which, interestingly, is the same year that Green Day's polar opposite, Fugazi, formed in D.C.), and even if you're not familiar with their derivative ersatz punk oeuvre, you'll surely recognize their acoustic smash hit single "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." It was playing everywhere in 1998 (even on Seinfeld), and part of the reason why I decided to see American Idiot was because I thought I wouldn't have to suffer through "Time of Your Life" again. But this being Broadway, I should have known better.

The first line in American Idiot—the propulsive yet vague new show adapted from Green Day's facile 2004 concept album of the same name—is, "I jerked off into oblivion last night." Deep, huh? The inscrutable story has something to do with a suburban kid who moves to the big city, gets hooked on heroin, mopes around, falls in love, and then finally follows his ejaculate into the void. Meanwhile, one of his buddies enlists in the Army and comes back an amputee (F U George Bush!), while a third amigo remains macramed to the couch back home. In between, there's a lot of apathetic whining, self-pity, and drug-fueled degeneracy passed off as "punk."

John Gallagher, Jr. (Spring Awakening) is adequate as Johnny, the "anti-hero," and does his best to fill in the contours of his character's ill-explained malaise. But there's just not much to work with here. Thankfully, the exuberant ensemble does such a fine job body-slamming around Christine Jones's spectacular, four-story set that it's easy enough to go along with the high-octane gloom ride. But aside from the excellent song "Holiday," the tinny score, at once anthemic and trite, sounds like it was assembled in a jingle factory by stoned teenagers convinced they were making something profound for the ages. (It's no accident the show is set in "Jingletown, USA.")

In one of the show's first numbers, Johnny sings of his suburban youth raised on "a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin," a nod, perhaps, to Fugazi's 1991 album Steady Diet of Nothing, which articulated much of what Green Day apes with far more insight and eloquence. The experience of watching American Idiot can probably best be summed up by the line "I don't care if you don't care," from the song, "I Don't Care." But the rancid cherry on top of this nihilistic spectacle comes during the curtain call, when the curtain rises to reveal every member of the giant ensemble holding acoustic guitars. I was a fool to think I'd get out of there without hearing "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." And I was far, far from the aisle.