DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
HEAD (director/writer: Bob Rafelson; screenwriter: Jack Nicholson; cinematographer: Michel Hugo; editors: Michael Pozen/Monte Hellman; cast: Peter Tork (Peter), Davy Jones (Davy), Micky Dolenz (Micky), Michael Nesmith (Mike), Annette Funicello (Minnie), Timothy Carey (Lord High 'n' Low), Abraham Sofaer (Swami), Vito Scotti (I. Vitteloni), Charles Macaulay (Inspector Shrink), Charles Irving (Mayor Feedback), Percy Helton (Heraldic Messenger), Ray Nitschze (footbal player), Sonny Liston (boxer, in the steam room); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Bert Schneider/Bob Rafelson/Jack Nicholson; Columbia Pictures; 1968)

 
"It's no Monty Python."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A psychedelic trippy pop culture film from Bob Rafelson ("The Postman Always Rings Twice"/"Five Easy Pieces"/"The King of Marvin Gardens") with Jack Nicholson as cowriter with Rafelson. The experimental film stars the Monkees, a no talent TV group with a "manufactured image" who receive an adult makeover in this flick. It's a film that turned off their fan base and could not interest the acid heads. Bert Schneider created the Monkees for television with Rafelson, and Rafelson seems to be killing his creation off through this slick hipster film. It comes right after their TV show appeal had begun to fade for their teenybopper viewers. The film even includes a "war chant" from the Monkees to warm your hearts: 

"You say we're manufactured, to that we all agree,
So make your choice and we'll rejoice in never being free.
Hey hey, we are The Monkees, we've said it all before.
The money's in, we're made of tin, we're here to give you more."

It's filled with rock music, a zany slapstick humor, wild sketches of the Monkees on the run in their search for meaning (they become dandruff in Victor Mature's hair, are sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, are frightened by a menacing cowboy played by Timothy Carey, and are placed in a 'metaphorical' steel box they can't escape from), old film clips, many guest stars and it throws non-poisonous darts at establishment sacred cows. But its humor didn't grab hold at the time and the film bombed at the box office. In later years, the film has received a more friendly reception and is viewed less harshly today, even compared favorably with the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Yellow Submarine. Timothy Carey, Ray Nitschze (Green Bay Packer great), Abraham Sofaer as a swami, Sonny Liston and Victor Mature are among the many celebs who join the freak-out, that marked the passing of the summer love-in at Woodstock and the violent love-in winter concert at Altamont. Head is an incoherent, plotless and senseless comedy, with inane visual gags (such as the destruction of a Coke machine), enhanced by sharp editing and trick photography and, finally, sunk by uninspiring rock music from the Monkees: Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith. I found its humor missing more often than hitting, and even when it hit it was merely silly funny. It's no Monty Python. 

REVIEWED ON 6/3/2007        GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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