Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



This isn’t the worst film that tried to cash in on the peace and love phenomenon. That would be the abomination by Otto Preminger called Skidoo, which came out in the same year. This plays like some misbegotten mash-up of A Hard Day’s Night and Help! There is no story as such, but the theme seems to be that the Monkees are trying to make a film, and cycling through every genre in the movie business, from westerns to war to horror to anything else. There is no rhyme or reason to it, they switch back and forth and off the wall at random. This could be amusing, but it really isn’t. During the “war” segment, for instance, we are repeatedly treated to the famous footage of the execution of a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon by Chief of Police Nguyễn Ngọc Loan. Suddenly this “psychedelic” trifle is an anti-war polemic. It was horribly out of place.

This movie appealed to precisely no one. The Monkees fans wanted their bubblegum music, and the hip crowd wouldn’t be caught dead seeing a Monkees movie. It was a total bomb.

I was sad, because I’ll admit that although I never watched their show, I thought some of their music was actually pretty good. Nothing earthshaking, but easily as good as any of a hundred “happy rock” bands of the time. You could sure dance to it. Or I could if I could dance, which I can’t. But we get none of their catchy tunes here, not one. Instead the songs are pretentious, trying to be poetic … serious music. Face it, boys, you were never Leonard Cohen or Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Almost unbelievably, this formless muddle was written by Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson, the team who would soon give us Five Easy Pieces. There are cameos by several people including some that time has forgotten, like Carol Doda and Sonny Liston. We also see Annette Funicello, Dennis Hopper, and Teri Garr. Also Victor Mature, of all people. He pops up, literally, from time to time, merely to laugh out loud. At one point he is a hundred feet tall. Laughing, laughing, laughing. At least {somebody}} was laughing.