Or I will be one miserable walrus.
Last night, I caught the last 2/3rds of one of those movies I can't explain to the younger generation. I always feel the need to apologize. Some of you may be aware that two of the most recent Broadway hits, "Movin' Out" and "Mamma Mia" are based on the hits of one particular artist or band. "Movin' Out" is a musical where they took some hits by Billy Joel, and made a story around them. "Mamma Mia" is done with hits from "Abba," which was a Swedish pop group that was unexplainably popular in the 1970s, and resurfaces from time to time in techno riffs. I haven't seen any of those musicals, but I hear they are good.
A logical thought process is, "Hey... how about other popular groups, like... hey, how about The Beatles??" Yeah, that would be a good idea, although "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Help" were... well, not musicals I guess, but kind of like movies with music montages in them. But someone else took this idea, mixed in pop disco, and wala, you have "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," a musical that shows just how bad the 70s corporate rock culture can get, and why it must never happen ever again.
Those of you who have not bleached your eyes with this monstrosity of recording artists fulfilling some ill-conceived line in their contract with their agents would not believe the list of people that contains. Keep in mind, these are tunes being sung in a gigantic film that could only be described as an aggregate of "standard Beatles covers" by recording artists in a snapshot of 1978 pop stars. Just a partial list includes: Peter Frampton as the good guy, with the Bee Gees (Haah haah Stayin' Alive...) looking as surprised as Peter is to be in this film, Steve Martin as the evil Doctor Maxwell (think his part from "Little Shop of Horrors," only from his "Wild and Crazy Guy" coke addict-stage of life), Alice Cooper as the Sun King (who talks his way through "Because" with Oompa-Loompa style computer graphics), Aerosmith as an evil band who kills both Strawberry Fields (the girl, not the song) and "Come Together" (the song), George Burns as Mr. Kite (our narrator), Carol Channing (who looks so out of place, even she's not convinced), and, get this, Carel Struycken, whose name may only be known to die hard Trek fans as the guy who played "Mr. Homn," assistant to Luxwanna Troi and "Spectre" in "Voyager." He also played "Lurch" in the Addams Family movies, but IMDB has this musical cacophony as his first credited film.
The plot, such as it is, is that Mean Mr. Mustard (stop laughing!) steals all these magical musical instruments and Sgt Pepper's band has to be found by Strawberry Fields... you know, I can't even keep a straight face typing this. I don't think the plot even matters, even to those who wrote it. I say this because the Beatles music fits so awkwardly into the hackneyed plot, I would have almost preferred they changed a few lyrics to make it sound relevant to the scene. It's so bad, it's like late-60s Hanna Barbera cartoon bad.
It reminds me of those people who use songs in commercials because they know one of the main taglines sounds like a good backdrop, but they never listen to the song in its entirety. This is how "Blitzkrieg Bop" (Ramones song about violence of youth rioting in the streets) ends up selling Cingulair pay-as-you-go phones. "Hey ho, let's go," sounds great... but then there's the part, "Shoot'em in the back now/What they want, I don't know/ They're all reved up and ready to go..." The worst has to be Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," which, as a jingle for a cruise ship line, forgets that most of the song is not about celebrating a buffet with a huge ice sculpture after rock climbing, but about an under aged heroin addict selling sex, "Here comes Johnny young again/With the liquor and drugs/And the flesh machine/He’s gonna do another strip tease./Hey man, where’d ya get that lotion? ..."
... ANYway... this film takes a perfectly good song like, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," and has it done by the flash-in-pan group Stargard sing it with disco-neon billboardy goodness and the Bee Gees. Robin Gibb is the only singer in this film that did a good job, IMHO, with his rendition of "Oh Darling," from "Abbey Road," which leads me to another complaint: this movie isn't just from the Sgt. Pepper's album, but a mixture of Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, and Rubber Soul. A majority of the character names seem to come from "Abbey Road," however, with Polythene Pam and Mean Mr. Mustard, for starters. In some cases, they try to make characters have names from the songs, like Billy Shears, Strawberry Fields, or Mr. Kite, but then none of what they sing about makes a damn bit of sense with the characters they made. The "Sun King" was the WORST, with Alice Cooper playing an obsessed hypnotherapist who brainwashes boy scouts into worshipping money to the tune "Because." No, it does not make sense, the lyrics don't have anything to do with the scene, and it comes off as such a hack especially since he doesn't actually sing it, but just spews it out like someone with emphysema, and no one told him it was once a song.
In the end, trumpet player Billy Preston, dressed in yellow silk and looking damn fine in it, dances his way around town and reverses anything tragic that happened to anybody because, and I really believe this, the script writers stopped caring and decided to "wrap it up." I mean, here Peter Frampton loses his girlfriend, buries her, then attempts suicide to "Day in the Life," even though he didn't blow his mind out in a car, he jumped off a porch roof. But then the weather vane inexplicably comes to life, sets everything right, brings Strawberry Fields back from the dead (creepy) and it ends with a choir made from a cast of thousands that reads like a "Who's Who in Entertainment, 1978:" Heart ("Ba-ra-CUD-ah..."), Leif Garrett, and tons of well known names as well as a dozen other recording artists and bands so unrecognizable, you're need a team of researchers with a pile of "Teen Beat" and the Billboard Top 100 for every week of 1978 to decode their presence.
Don't see this film... or blood will shoot from your nose.