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One of the problems with popular culture, especially when discussing the popular culture of the 1970s, is that mass media - especially television - is usually about four years behind 'underground' media, primarily music. Many people think the 'Woodstock Generation" remained important throughout the 1970s; actually, it was all over at Altamont in 1970. By 1972, 'underground' rock or the 'counterculture' had moved east to England and Led Zepplin, Black sabbath, and David Bowie, early metal-heads and the so-called 'glam-rockers,' who were all 'peace and love' - not. Neither, in a darkly different vein, was Charles Manson's 'family.'
This obvious pilot for a television show (that, thankfully, was never picked up by the networks) is attempting to come to terms with a culture that was already as withered as yesterday's flowers. The script must have been lying around a few years - by the time it was produced, writer Carlino had already achieved recognition for tough Mafia revenge tales. And the cultural references are all to "Easy Rider" and Woodstock (1969). The music referenced on the soundtrack is actually earlier, 1966/67 - at Woodstock Hendrix, Canned Heat, and Sly and the Family Stone had blasted this kind of folk-pop into oblivion.
The movie is about a middle-class family that goes on the road in order to meet hippies. Wow, man, farout, outasight, it's a groovy mind-blowing happening of a bag. However, politics count for nothing - Vietnam? some place in Asia, right?
This average (meaning stale and vacuous) TV movie is only redeemed by Jeff Bridges' surprisingly mature performance as the young college drop-out who convinces his parents and grandma to 'discover' (hippie) America. All the rest of the performances are standard TV fair by standard TV actors of the time. The director avails himself of some nice location cinematography, but otherwise the film is a poor way to spend 90 minutes.
I knew it was all over when Sal Mineo remarks of a young runaway (who tells the other characters they are not really there): "She's a latent existentialist." Wow, far out, groovy.
A couple extra points for being 'so bad it's funny,' but if you don't care about the '70's TV version of the '60's, stay away.
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