While it’s not at all considered bad taste to like The Beatles, The Bee Gees or Peter Frampton individually, it is most definitely bad taste to like watching Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I had the bright idea to turn Friday nights into “Movie Night” for my kids, intending to show them the films that I loved as kid. The inaugural film was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a musical mashed together out the titular Beatles’ album, plus Abbey Road. Peter Frampton stars as “Billy Shears,” the lead singer of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The rest of the band is played by The Bee Gees as “The Hendersons” and his girlfriend is “Strawberry Fields.” George Burns is “Mr. Kite.” The villain is “Mean Mr. Mustard.” There’s also a “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Alice Cooper is Father Sun, AKA “The Sun King.” Steve Martin is the highpoint in his manic turn as “Maxwell.”
My four year old son did not give a shit about any of the film, except the scene with Steve Martin performing “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” His eyes were glued to the screen and his only words were, “I want to be him!” In retrospect, I should have asked him why…I suspect it was because he was hitting people on the head with a hammer.
The first time I ever saw this film, I thought it was part of a fever dream when I had the chicken pox in second grade. My sister and I were stuck at home for a whole week, all we could do was watch TV and scratch ourselves. I remember watching it on the Channel 13 Million Dollar Movie and falling in love. (Don’t judge me, I was 8 years old!) Eventually, I recorded it and watched it ad nauseum for a few years. I loved the soundtrack and had it on cassette. In college, I bought the soundtrack on pristine vinyl at Half Price Books…but I hadn’t seen the film in almost 20 years until this viewing – I’ll be the first to admit that it was extremely painful to watch. It was even worse than I expected. I had forgotten that there is no dialogue, the story is advanced via the songs and narration by George Burns. I was rather surprised by all the pot smoking in a PG film, but it would be easy enough for a child to overlook. Surprisingly, the music still holds up – especially Aerosmith’s cover of “Come Together,” which I actually prefer to The Beatles’ version. My son’s only other comment during the film was “I want long hair,” after seeing Steven Tyler performing. Hmmmm…
The finale of the film is a living, singing version of the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album, with the cast and a bunch of people who were famous in 1978, but are probably dead now. Except Carol Channing – she’s not dead yet? Oh yeah, I think Tina Turner is still alive, too.
In summary, movie night was a success, but I’m not so sure that my kids were too happy about my film choice. Next up, Howard the Duck.