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Greatest Rock'n'Roll Comedy Ever Made.
Get Crazy!
Allan Arkush, dir
Malcolm McDowell, Lou Reed

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Unfortunately, more recent news (confirmed by director Arkush himself) is that this film will probably never appear on DVD, because the original sound elements have been lost.

This is, quite simply, a movie that i do not believe could be made today.

The drug jokes, the non-PC scene at the blind blues man's funeral, the general laid-back, loosey-goosey anything-goes scattershot approach to movie making are simply too much of the 80s -- and the early 80s at that.

It's coming up on New Year's, 1983, punk has pretty well given way to New Wave, but the music is still interesting, and promoter Max Wolf (read: Bill Graham, and you wouldn't be far out, portrayed perfectly by Alan Garfield) is planning another gala concert to celebrate at the same time the fifteenth anniversary of the Saturn Theatre music hall (read: Fillmore East, where Arkush was an usher -- he can be seen onscreen in a hitchcockian cameo wearing his Fillmore East usher's t-shirt) and the New Year. It'll be the summit of his career as a promoter.

Colin Beverley (Ed Begley Jr), CEO of Serpent Records, aided by his yes men (played by actors whose names are too good to reveal, though many younger viewers these days might not recognise them or their names...), who was fired after three days as a Saturn usher, years ago, wants to buy up the Saturn's lease, tear it down and build an 88-story HQ building for Serpent on the spot. Beverley will use any method he can, including terrorism, to get that lease. he offers Max the chance to put on huge shows at his stadium venue.

"I put on concerts where the kids can see the band and hear the music. So screw stadiums, and screw you." Max answers. (Long Live Rock'n'Roll!!! i say.)

Believing he is dying of a heart attack, fearing what evil Beverley may be planning, Max decides this will be the greatest concert of his life -- and he calls in his markers.

They'll all be there -- Nada (with special guest, Piggie)! (Lori Eastside and Lee Ving) King Blues! (Bill Henderson) Captain Cloud and the Rainbow telegraph! (Howard Kaylan, of the Turtles, hilarious as a time-warped hippie) Reggie Wanker and his band (and his girlfriend, Countess Chantamina) (Malcolm MacDowell out jaggering Mick and out kinking Ray)... and Auden, existential folk-rock poet, the man who made the Sixties what they are today! (Lou Reed in a deadly deadpan Dylan-in-black-leather portrayal).

And the whole thing rests squarely on the shoulders of Neal, the stage manager (Daniel Stern) who, added to all his other problems, finds his theatre infested with a severe case of 17-year-old spandex-wrapped kid sister (Stacy Nelkin).

Not to mention sabotage (internal and external), over zealous fire marshalls (Robert Picardo, long before "Voyager"), uncooperative bands that won't play by the rules, Electric Larry -- the word's fastest dope dealer -- running loose in the hall, bomb threats, fires, and general brouhaha, the first stirrings of love and Max's geek nephew, who's conspiring with Colin Beverley.

"It's... it's ticking!" "I know -- it's traditional..."

This is a movie for the rock'n'roll fan -- the more you know about rock'n'roll, from its very beginnings up till the very moment that the cameras began to roll on this film, the more you will enjoy it, though, lord knows, even someone who barely knows Mick Jagger from Paul Simon can still appreciate it.

The directorial style and cinematography are kinetic and surreal/scattershot, we slide in and out of hallucinations, daydreams and just plain weirdness (two Rastafarians come in escorting a seven foot high walking talking spliff with eyes and a mouth, among the items confiscated during body searches at the door are a 500-pound bomb and a full keg of beer, not to mention a full length shotgun; the men's room has to be seen -- and will be -- to be believed and the crowd are totally bizarre).

Jokes are crammed in everywhere; as an example of the sort of thing i mean, consider the drummer in the Wanker's band -- His name is Toad (the title of a Ginger Baker drum solo piece), he is played by John Densmore (drummer for the Doors) and looks and sounds like Keith Moon. Reggie's private 747 is a loving tribute to the glory days of rock'n'roll excess and Bad Taste (before the bean counters really clamped down on spending). And watch out for references to other films.

In the end, of course, everything comes out exactly as it ought, vilains paid out, virtue rewarded, the seventeen-year-old virgin (male) on the stage crew gets over it, rather spectacularly ... and wait till you see (or rather, don't see, but meet) the Wanker's new manager...

The usual ex-Corman-protege obligatory-cameo actors are on board -- Dick Miller, Mary Woronov and the late Dick Bartel, plus others.

And make sure you watch the end credits till the very end, and keep your eyes open throughout for references to other films (especially ones in which two or more members of this cast appeared together).

Since i wrote this original review, i've seen an interview with McDowell, in which he said that he hadn't read the script - he was relaxing after his previous film, and when his agent  told him they wanted him for this, he said (without reading the script) that he'd do it if they met his pay requirements ... and they did.

So his first day on the set, someone asked him how he planned to play the scene with Reggie's "new manager" near the end...

And it was like "What have I signed up for?!?  Get me the script!"

cover If you liked "Rock'n'Roll High School", you must not miss this.  (Conversely, if you liked this, you really need to see "R'n'R HS" if you haven't already; things are often oddly symmetrical that way.)
((With any luck, the Get Crazy! DVD will include the video for Bette Midler's cover of the Stones' "Beast of Burden" that Arkush shot on the same set at the same time, in which both Stacy Nelkin and the *real* Mick Jagger have walk-ons...))
"Get Crazy!/Do a striptease down the supermarket aisle/Get crazy!/Tell your boyfriend that you're pregnant, watch him smile..."