“Everybody’s where they wanna be.”
The Monkees (Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones) take a head trip through reality and beyond — including to Victor Mature’s hair.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Bob Rafelson Films
- Victor Mature Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary points out that the “one film” of The Monkees — “a Beatles-influenced singing group [that] was formed to star in a television series and make records” — was “aimed not at the groups’ loyal teenybopper fans, but at a more sophisticated audience”. Directed by Bob Rafelson and co-scripted by Rafelson and Jack Nicholson (as well as The Monkees themselves, uncredited), the film “contains political references (including documentary footage of the Vietnam war); satirizes the world of movies, television, and commercials; and spoofs the group’s wholesome image.” Peary notes that “each Monkee becomes a mere pawn being jerked from one incoherent sequence to the next, and is subordinate to the gimmicky (psychedelic) visuals and special effects” — but “there are funny moments,” including the Monkees becoming “dandruff on Victor Mature’s greasy hair” (!).
However, he argues that “the film is a mess (by design — that’s the shame) and tedious,” and thus only “recommended for Monkees fans who comprise [the] film’s cult today”; “others will be disappointed.
I’m in agreement with Peary’s review, which accurately captures both the chaos and the frustration of this intentionally “cult-like”, self-referential satire. Rafelson himself has admitted that the entire screenplay was written while tripping on acid — and there’s deliberately very little coherence across scenes. At one point, we’re told that what we’re seeing from then on is a policeman’s dream, but since the dream portion never “ends”, we’re left wondering whether this was simply one more “joke” meant to trip us up (literally). With that said, film fanatics may have fun trying to recognize the various classic movie clips scattered throughout — which include The Black Cat (1934), Golden Boy (1939), City for Conquest (1940), and Gilda (1946).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Plenty of creatively surreal imagery
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status.