Proof positive that The Monkees were on more drugs than The Beatles.
Most people don’t even know that The Monkees made a movie, much less how trippy and bizarre it is. It’s actually the best movie to come out of a rock band ever, barring The Wall. All of The Beatles’ movies are like watching paint dry, especially Yellow Submarine. I’ll ram knitting needles into my eyes if I ever have to watch The Schlong Remains the Same again. Even 200 Motels – by one of my favorite artists, Frank Zappa – made me fall asleep. Head remains the only one that stands up to repeated viewings – and the toddler test.
Co-written by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson (creator of The Monkees, but also director of Five Easy Pieces and The Postman Always Rings Twice), Head was designed to overturn all the preconceptions everyone had about The Monkees. Well aware of their manufactured image, they embraced it and used it to portray themselves very differently than their TV show. This succeeds on some levels, with Tork portrayed as philosophic and Nesmith as an asshole, but it doesn’t come across as much with Dolenz and Jones, although the image of tiny Jones as a boxer getting knocked the fuck out is more amusing than you would think.
In addition to a cameo by writer Jack Nicholson, there are all kinds of famous faces that pop up in Head. Dennis Hopper is in the scene with Nicholson. Teri Garr and Annette Funicello pop in as love interests. Toni Basil dances with Davy Jones. Frank Zappa wanders in with a talking cow that is very critical of The Monkees’ performance. But by far, the weirdest cameo of all is Victor Mature. As “The Big Victor,” The Monkees are not only as inconsequential as his dandruff – they ARE his dandruff.
Head contains the best music of The Monkees’ entire catalogue. It’s not bubblegum at all. On the contrary, it has a more Jefferson Airplane/Pink Floyd feel that most would not even recognize as The Monkees. My favorites are The Porpoise Song and Daddy’s Song, although I prefer the outtake on the soundtrack with Nesmith’s vocals as opposed to Davy’s.
On a tenuously related note, here’s a link to The Office’s Kate Flannery’s account of her love affair with Davy Jones while touring with The Brady Bunch Stage Show. WARNING: May cause one to puke in one’s own mouth.