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I'm giving this five points out of ten just for its value as a museum piece. In 1970 people feared this was the future, and by 1980, with the coming of Reagan people laughed that this was ever the past.
It revolves around a family that basically drops out of American middle class life and decides to roam around in a bus. The family consists of two forty-something parents (Carl Betz and Vera Miles), grandma (Ruth McDevitt), and the one who instigated all of this, son Mike (Jeff Bridges). Mike decides to drop out of college after one year and go find himself instead and see how he relates to other people - nice work if you can get it.
19 year-olds have done this before, it is nothing new, and usually after a year of bagging groceries for minimum wage with a boss that is obnoxious to you because skills wise you are extremely replaceable, college begins to look attractive again to said drop-outs. The weird part is that Mike manages to convince his in-the-prime-of-their-wage-earning-years parents to dump their jobs and their possessions and roam around in a 1928 bus! I mean, at least the Partridge Family had a reason - they were professional singers and a big family! And from the opening scenes Mike's parents have been doing well - big house, big yard, all the things people work all their lives to get. This was unbelievable premise number one. Number two is the grandma herself. It just is not believable when one generation talks like a member of an entirely different generation. Where did grandma learn "You turned him off with that hurt parent routine just when he was opening up to you" anyways? Just like I won't wake up tomorrow knowing Spanish, an elderly woman living with her kids is not going to talk that way and it just seems silly.
Then once on the road there are the people that the family runs into. There's a woman living off the land playing guitar by the side of the road who asks "Why are you Mike? Are you real?". I'd like to ask her when she gets hungry, how do you know food is real? How do you know hunger is real? Somehow I think she'd quickly become unattached to her annoying existentialism when presented with some corn on the cob.
Then there is another woman (a very young Tyne Daly) who decides to give birth in the woods because "it just seems more real". Yep, and doctors and biomedical engineering seem very real if something goes wrong.
I think you get the idea. I thought this thing was a scream (as in funny) when I was 13. The only thing missing was the dad getting lost (we only had maps in those days, no GPS) and asking Billy Jack for directions! I wonder when they got back home if the Manson Family had moved into those "groovy" digs they left abandoned? Watch it for the fun of it. There actually was a counterculture once upon a time and this was it. One more thing, do you think the Koch brothers watched this in their youth, it scared the living daylights out of them to think everyone might just follow this example, and thus hatched their plan to turn us all into wage slave robots? Nah, they're probably just greedy.
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