Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sgt. Pepper and the Cpls.Gibb

(From time to time, I run across something I wrote but never edited and published in the year or so we were “off line.” Here’s another one of those. Hope you enjoy.)

As many of you know, my son has been a steady contributor to the Blogosphere. His forte is movie reviews, and previous blog readers and Facebook friends know that I’ve been pushing his work at In watching his writing over the past year, he just keeps getting better and more creative. Proud father talking.

The presence of his blog also means that there are now new ways for Father and Son to interact. (He’s too old for me to use the the terms Daddy and Boy anymore…though my head has made the transition, my heart’s not quite there.) We’ve always liked to go to the movies, but now that he’s a critic we not only sit and watch, but review.

We’re not only going to the theater. In what must be one of the most nerd-like things we’ve ever done…and given that we go to GenCon very year, that’s saying a lot…we’ll sit at home on a weekend night, pick a movie on pay-per-view and man the couch with sodas, popcorn, and notepaper in hand. It’s actually lots of fun to compare notes and views. The only difficult part of the exercise is deciding what movie to watch. He’s on a roll where he likes to review obscure, bad films because it’s just fun. I’m pushing for classic films that everyone knows because I think he’ll have an interesting take. I want him to be a young Roger Ebert; he wants to be a literary Ed Wood.

This conflict often results in the tow of us watching movies simply because neither of us has seen them before. Which is how we wound up seeing the “Sergeant Peeper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” starring George Burns, Peter Frampton, and the Bee Gees.

To someone of my moderate years, that’s all I should have to say for you to know this film is going to be awful. But just in case you’d like a plot synopsis, here it is. Having brought about the end of World War I with a small brass band, Sgt. Pepper comes home to small town America and leaves his magical instruments in trust so the inhabitants might always be happy. Some years later, the band reforms in the persons of the three Henderson Brothers and The One and Only Billy Shears, and sets out for Hollywood. However, their departure leaves an opening for Mean Mr. Mustard to steal the enchanted musical mechs. When the boys find out, their search for the instruments leads to encounters with Alice Cooper, Steve Martin, and Aerosmith. In the final battle, Steven Tyler does something unspeakable (like that’s a surprise) and Billly’s girlfriend Strawberry Fields dies. As Billy is then preparing to commit suicide from a towering six foot high porch, a weather vane comes to life as Billy Preston and makes everything right. The movie ends with everyone who ever signed a contract with the Robert Stigwood organization singing the title track in a bizarre precursor to “We Are the World.” The whole movie is underlined by Beatles songs redone by the characters of the movie. All, that is, except George Burns, who sings something vaudevillish but nowhere near as good as “Simon Smith and his Dancing Bear” and does nothing diety-like in the slightest, even when he could have done so much more to rescue this tale than the weather-vane guy.

As I said, to someone of my era, this disaster could be seen coming form miles away. To The Teen, however, this is all new and unexplored territory. So at the end of our two hour odyssey that even Joe Walsh then (and probably now) would have difficulty fathoming, he had six pages of notes.

Here’s all I had:

Brendan knew immediately what country Frampton was from when he looked at his teeth.

I had to explain that the Bee Gees were the Bee Gees because they were the brothers Gibb but not all the brothers Gibb, because Andy died, as have Robin and Maurice, so now the Bee Gees are the singular Bee Gee but still share an An Everlasting Love.

I never liked big frizzy 70’s hair on girls. Big 80's hair is still hot.

Billy Shear’s girlfriend’s name is Strawberry Fields. In the movie she dies. Which is stupid, because Strawberry Fields FOREVER.

My Lord, I had a sweater vest just like that.

Steve Martin was in this? And George Burns? And they still had careers?

The fact that these are my only thoughts is why I’m not a film critic. Compare these to his review, and you’ll see why he is. ( Please, read his blog and feel free to comment, about this movie or anything else he’s written. But if you don’t like his stuff I know guys who live under a bridge who’ll do anything for a twenty and a pint of Mad Dog 20/20. Kind of like Harry Truman who went after that critic of Margaret's piano playing in that regard. Proud parent. You’ve been warned.

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