Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Oh ho ho ho ho. That's right: this is a novelization of the movie starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees that wove Beatles music into what it laughingly called its "plot". It's Across the Universe, but much, much worse. See, it turns out that Mr. Frampton and the Brothers Gibb cannot, in fact, act. You'd think they'd have checked that before starting the movie, but apparently not. So once they were done shooting (this is true), they reedited the movie so id didn't have any dialogue. All the heavy lifting for the plot was handled by Mr. Kite, who was played by George Burns.

So now what you've got is a movie fronted by four heartthrobs and George Burns. They even put George on the cover of the novel:

There is still dialogue in the book. It's not good, but it's there. In the movie, the story is just there to get from song to song. So you've got a character named "Strawberry Fields" and a character named "Mr. Mustard" (who is, as you might expect, Mean), and so on. This is kind of pointless, though, because almost all the songs are either bland and terrible or awful and terrible. Some people kind of like the way Steve Martin performs "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", though. And to be fair, Earth Wind and Fair rock the hell out of "Got to Get You Into My Life" and Aerosmith do a great job on "Come Together". Most of the time, though, the songs are entirely forgettable. The book does not dance around the subject and just blats out the lyrics whenever a song shows up:

The cover claims that there are "16 pages of outrageous photos from the movie". Frankly, not all of these pictures are all that outrageous. It's hard to be outrageous in black and white. Well, I guess Robert Mappelthorpe managed. Look, my point is that this picture is not outrageous:

The caption reads "Mustard and the Brute steal the instruments. Heartland immediately goes punk." Sadly, that is an accurate description of what happens in the movie.

Let's see, what else... well, the whole book except for the first chapter is written in the first person. That's pretty annoying. Oh! And at the end, there's a moment when a whole lot of musicians appear in the movie. Like Donovan, Dr. John, Heart, Chita Rivera, Sha-Na-Na, and Keith Carradine. It doesn't make a lot of sense. But in the book, that list of musicians, since it is unfettered by appearance fees or the bonds of death, goes on for five pages!

The other unusual thing about this book (which is already nearly unique in its weirdness) is that the Acknowledgements page includes "And my dear friend, Dr. Timothy Leary, who touches every experience with magic." I'm told by people that met him that Leary did indeed do that, but it's still not something I expect to see in the novelization of a bubblegum pop movie like this.


Anonymous said...

Whoo! Sadly, I have recently come across a copy of this stinky cinematic suppository in both film and print. I may end up using the book as a coaster, as that's pretty much all it's good for.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention - Robert Palmer! Ha ha! I remember seeing his cameo in the crowd scene at the end was the only bright spot.