Monday, August 11, 2003

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXIV

Based on the musical by the same name, this 1979 movie doesn't quite capture the spirit of the '60s but sure tries hard. (This might be because the movie was made 11 years after the musical's original staging.) A young man from Oklahoma travels to New York City to enlist in the Army so he can serve in Viet Nam. Why he couldn't enlist in Oklahoma is unclear, but perhaps he wanted to go to the Big City before he was shipped overseas. Once in the Big Apple, he encounters a playful gang of hippies and an uppercrust debutante who steals his heart. Mmm, Beverly D'Angelo! The hippies turn him onto free love, sleeping in Central Park, smoking pot, taking acid, and anti-war rhetoric, but the country boy still plans to join the Army. The leader of the hippies, played by Treat Williams, decides they should follow him to Nevada, where he's stationed. They sneak him off base for a picnic, but -- much to his dismay -- Williams' character Berger is accidentally shipped overseas in his stead. A dark ending I wasn't quite expecting! For the most part I felt like the musical sequences gave the original book short shrift (even the rendition of "Hair" was disappointing) -- and that the story didn't hook onto the song order as well as it could have. Regardless, the back-to-back "Black Boys" and "White Boys" were awesome numbers, and the ending reminded me a little of Dr. Strangelove. What a twisted conclusion! Worth watching as a detached period piece, but not as valid a time capsule as Jesus Christ Superstar.

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