In a European village called what else but Fleu de Coup
In the war, one Sergeant Pepper brought morale to every troop.
He and Lonely Hearts Club Band together (yes, this makes no sense)
Played their music in their wholesome town with magic instruments.
He died, but grandson Billy Shears has come to try his hand
With the Bee Gees as the new, more groovy Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In Heartland U.S.A, they play for good and decent crowds
And Billy’s girl, Strawberry Fields, looks on with head in clouds.
The band gets noticed by a wealthy record company
And travel to Los Angeles and get all wild and free.
They play some nifty Beatles tunes and shoot to sudden fame,
But back in Heartland U.S.A., things aren’t at all the same.
A mean old Mr. Mustard has corrupted that sweet town;
He’s working for some F.V.B. to bring all goodness down.
Strawberry comes to seek her man and friends at any cost
And find their stolen instruments before all hope is lost.
They locate them rather quickly and retrieve them one by one,
The cornet from Dr. Maxwell, the tuba from Father Sun.
They play a concert benefit for Heartland, then forthwith,
They fight the Future Villain Band (which sounds like Aerosmith).
Our heroes win, but Strawberry has the rotten luck to perish,
And Billy Shears is lost without his lovely girl to cherish.
He almost kills himself as well, but then a weathervane
Of Sgt. Pepper comes to life and sets things right again.
He brings Strawberry back to life and tries all wrongs to mend.
Then lots of famous people sing around the words “The End.”

This really is an awful movie, so why do I like it? It’s corny, campy, horribly acted, terribly plotted, and just plain bad. And yet, it’s quite a piece of work to watch. Basically an excuse to cram as many Beatles songs as possible into a single film, there’s no dialogue, save for George Burns’s narration (which sounds a lot like Peter Falk in The Princess Bride). Peter Frampton plays Billy Shears, and it’s rather obvious why he and the Bee Gees never acted again. Sandy Farina is lovely as Strawberry Fields, while British comedian Frankie Howerd is over the top as Mean Mr. Mustard. Steve Martin’s humor shines, though, as a giddily wicked Dr. Maxwell.

But casting aside, the music is definitely what saves the film. Frampton and the Bee Gees have great harmony, and most of the songs are almost as good as the original versions, particularly “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “A Day in the Life,” and “Here Comes the Sun.” I would even go so far as to say I like a few of the film’s versions better, like “Strawberry Fields,” “Come Together” (my VC’s favorite), and especially Billy Preston’s rendition of “Get Back.” On the other hand, the film also butchered a couple as well, such as “Because” whined out by Alice Cooper and the way overly long “I Want You.”

Despite its abundant flaws (I’m lookin’ at you, hokey female robots), all the goings on are obviously tongue-in-cheek and, if not hilarious, at least amusing throughout. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was not that “generation’s Gone with the Wind,” as producers had hoped, but it’s the only movie on this list that is so bad that it’s good.

Best line: George Burns says, after Billy is zapped by Father Sun’s electrical system, “Could Billy survive 10,000 volts? It was a lot more than normally came through his guitar. Frankly, he was shocked.” 🙂

Artistry: 1
Characters/Actors: 1
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 1
Originality: 3
Watchability: 6
Other (Music): 7
TOTAL: 26 out of 60

Tomorrow – #358: Panic Room

© 2014 S. G. Liput