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This film surprised me; I didn't expect it to even be worth the $1
price of the horrible Digiview catalog, but it turned out to be nicely
acted. Veteran TV toilers Ruth McDevvit, Carl Betz, Vera Miles, Howard
Duff and even Sal Mineo turn in some rather fine performances, but of
course it's Jeff Bridges who steals the show. Early in his career, it's
(almost) the last thing Bridges would do for television, since his
breakthrough "The Last Picture Show" came out the same year. Plus,
relative newcomer Tyne Daley gives us some fantastic work (especially
during her character's childbirth scenes).
That said, the movie itself is barely mediocre. Only Bridges' acting elevates this above the average 'made-for' (made-for-television movie) of it's day. Filled with clichéd characters and stereotyped situations, it might have seemed very original in, say, 1967. Coming from 1971, at the end of the hippie movement instead of the beginning, it's just grindingly derivative. Like most television of the time, it's painfully obvious the writer & director have little or no understanding of the hippie culture they're trying so earnestly to portray.
Especially the decidedly UN-psychedelic background "songs", which mostly consist of a large male & female chorus sing/chanting bad "poetic" commentary on what we're seeing. Think "Paint Your Wagon" on acid (I'm sure the composer was). Near the beginning they persist in repeating the phrase "magic bus", and you can almost hear Pete Townshend wishing he could sue them, just to make them STOP... And ohmigod the whistling section -- somewhere near the middle, there's a dozen of them whistling, and I swear no two of them are in the same key. It's positively the worst whistling ever recorded, ever. (And maybe worth the dollar all by itself!)
The plot, also, is a sad waste of concept, although it does start out bright, with Bridges as a clean-cut proto-hippie who (somehow) convinces his mom, dad, and grandmother(!) to join him in 'dropping out' and taking out in an ancient, rebuilt bus, to find themselves, and hopefully America. Unfortunately, their tour (as far as we get to see it) consists entirely of visiting one ramshackle rock festival, apparently only a few days away from their suburban home. (The footage of the festival is genuine, however, obviously shot during the setup and daytime of some small festival somewhere, without any participation therefrom (and no music!), but featuring lots and lots of shots of real, genuine 1971 model hippies dancing, grooving, playing in the mud -- all the usual stuff. But it's obvious the 'camp' was shot nowhere near the festival itself, and the attempted montaging sometimes becomes hilariously bad.)
So, arriving at said festival, the Olsens set up near a small enclave of 5 hippies: the pregnant Daley & husband, Mineo's vaguely rebellious 'Burnout', the Token Black, and the Love Interest. Each character is exactly that obvious from the start, but all of them manage to transcend their crappy dialog and make us actually feel them as people. Especially Glynn Turman as "Bordo", the 'shaman', who runs around chanting and making faces in the worst possible witch-doctor-put-a-hoodoo-on-you fashion, spouting semi-nonsense in an ostentatious generic African accent. But somehow, someway, he actually makes it work. And gives a fantastic touch near the end, when he slips up and (very subtly) for just one line, talks in American to Grandma Rose -- and then immediately spits out more mumbo-jumbo (which Grandma fully 'digs', of course). Far out! (He would soon star in the 70's classic "Cooley High", which set a new standard for "black" films, with Turman's wooden-yet-somehow-compelling acting being a primary cause.)
It's not all bleak though, which justifies (I hope) this lengthy review; after all, while writer Lewis John Carlino might not 'grok' the hippies, it doesn't mean he doesn't get human beings. This is the same guy who wrote "The Great Santini" and the adaptation of "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden", after all. And director Paul Bogart (eventually) went on to do "Torch Song Trilogy", so we know they both had at least some talent in them. And, as I said, the ensemble's acting is actually worthwhile here; it certainly feels as if most everybody involved really cared about this production, and gave it their best.
So, overall, if you like to watch the craft of acting done well, you will likely enjoy this unimportant yet unassuming little film. If, that is, you can sit through the painful chanting chorus, the laughable suburban-sitcom setup, and the clichéd situations with sensible television resolutions by the end of the episode ... er, of the movie.
Which brings me to my last point: it doesn't mention it on the IMDb here, but it seems rather clear to me that this movie was (at least at some point) considered as a pilot episode. Without spoiling the internal plot threads, I can tell you that, by the end, its time to leave the festival:
Mom: Anybody know where we're going?
Son: Nope... you?
Mom (to Dad): You want to go home?
Dad: (thinks): No!
Swell the godawful "music", and cut to external shot of bus driving away along a coastal highway to who-knows-where, In Search Of America. And when I think about it, what a fantastic series it could have made! Each week, new adventures in their completely square psychedelic bus, discovering themselves, and America! Perhaps they even could have had a very special episode where they stop to help a broken-down Partridge Family, and Laurie falls in love with Bridges' character, and... on second thought: no. But still, a TV drama starring Jeff Bridges would have been something to see...
I should also mention that it's yet another awful transfer from Digiview, with no features, special or otherwise.
They don't write dialog like this any more. Here's a sample:
Man: I hope we're not in your way.
Hippie Girl: No, not at all. 'Cause you don't really exist. You, me, all of us. We're just dream particles in a great cosmic jellyfish.
Odd movie with disembodied voices in the background singing, and occasionally chanting, lyrics that vaguely have something to do with the plot.
I bought this film for $1 and my wife and I enjoyed watching it. It's not high art but a kind of funny window into the sixties, and what middle-aged screen writers thought of the younger generation.
The late 60's was a different and frightening time and place. Adolescents and adults alike were questioning who they were, why they existed, and whether these gosh-darned flower children kids might just have something. This movie shows all that as suburban Dad, Carl Betz, flower child Jeff Bridges, loose-as-a-goose grandma Ruth McDevitt take off for the road in search of America. Most of the usual made-for-TV cliches and pat solutions are offered, but the mood is so '60's, I didn't mind a bit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film actually starts out pretty interesting but for my taste it
degenerated far too quickly into a dull and predictable melodrama. None
of the performances are particularly interesting and the camera work is
just standard TV movie stuff, so there's really no reason for anyone to
see this movie unless they are as big of a Jeff Bridges fan as I am I
Bridges plays Mike Olson, a young man who announces at a family picnic that he is quitting college to go on the road. His parents believe he is "just acting out" and talk about how "he has no plan". He assures them he does have a plan, and that he needs to discover his true self and his place in the world. So much so in fact that he invites them to go on the road with him and purchases an antique bus to travel in, which he and his father repair in true TV movie father-son bonding fashion. Up until about this point in the film I was somewhat interested in the plot and characters and I wanted to see how his stuck-up mother (Vera Miles) was going to react to life on the road. There's a funny scene early on where the father and son have to convince her to take the trip with them. They show her the inside of the bus and she gradually becomes more and more interested, finally departing in a huff with some kind of talk about curtains versus blinds on the windows. Bridges marvels to his dad (Carl Betz, equipped with radio announcer voice) that she has changed her mind. Dad assures him "electric oven... works every time!".
But the movie goes downhill almost as soon as they hit the road. It turns out that Mike's only "plan" is to introduce them to some "friends" of his who turn out to be random people who they meet at a hippie rock festival. As soon as I saw the rock festival I was a bit disappointed... particularly as it became obvious that the entire rest of the film would take place at the festival campground and not actually on the road. But at least I thought there might be a decent band like, well, if they couldn't afford Hendrix or the Stones maybe they would at least have Canned Heat or Little Feat or something like that. No dice -- apparently the only music at this festival is some horrible choral group with orchestra that sounded like a poor imitation of the Fifth Dimension, coupled with an annoying announcer who's supposed to be humorous.
Also we are introduced to a set of hippy festivalgoers and their various medical melodramas. Kathy (Renne Jarrett) is a pretty blonde girl with existentialism and nature on her mind, who falls in love with Mike before revealing the fact that she needs kidney dialysis to live and has run off to the festival to die. And 2 other campers are determined to have a baby in their crude tent, introducing the struggle between modern medicine and hippy ignorance (or something like that). All in all the longer this goes on the more painful the film becomes for anyone hoping for any element of surprise or real drama.
Basically this movie is a waste of time, although it would probably amuse anyone who is really into the period of time in the late 60s, early 70s and the films from that time. I'd be just as happy if I never see it again though.
Picked this one up in the Buck-a-Movie Bin at Wally World and can't
stop thinking about how good it must feel for Jeff Bridges to know In
Search of America, a baby-food-level, cutesy-poo, hippie-dippy mess of
a series pilot didn't sell.
You really have to see this glop of strained peas to appreciate how much of an insult it is to everyone from the vast majority of silent, hard-working Baby Boomers to their "Greatest Generation" parents. Bridges plays the earnest college freshman who wants to . . . search for America! So he convinces his middle-class liberal parents and granny to hop on the hippie bus for a tour of the country (from the locales, they never get out of the LA area; how's that for a fresh perspective?!).
There's a whole bunch a rock concerting and baby having and voodoo witch doctoring and failing kidneying and when it's all over, with the warbling of some sort of Osmond/Cowsill/Partridge Family singing group never far from the soundtrack, you're wondering if ol' Jeff might refund your buck.
This movie purports to show a middle class family's attempt to figure
out what is "going down" in the America of the late 1960's. Their trip
to a rock festival is as far as their refurbished old bus gets. Without
exception, the characters are superficial stereotypes.
If you want to know which well-established Hollywood actors were desperate for a paycheck in those days,.. just look at the credits. Sal Mineo, I had forgotten just how badly his career had hit the skids! Thank God, his career rebounded before his untimely death.
The writers on this television turkey were clueless. Outside of doing weed, their insights into the "hippie movement" were laughable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie wasn't so much as bad as it was boring. I bought it for $1 while looking for really bad movies but this wasn't bad. IT WAS BORING!!!!!!!!!!! I was so bored while watching this. They try and make it interesting and funny but failed epically. This movie was Boring! Do not watch it! If you want to watch a good movie, watch something else. If you want a really really bad movie that has bad acting and stuff, watch something else. If you want to get tired, bored and not entertained at all, this is the perfect movie for you. It is extremely boring. Something about birth and Woodstock. I hear Woodstock was amazing and NOT BORING!!!! Do Not Watch this Film
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a heaping pile of garbage. The entire movie is grainy, the audio is poor and the acting is terrible. Let's put it this way, I got this at a DOLLAR store for FIFTY CENTS. The plot is totally unrealistic. A college dropout convinces his family to sell their house, and tour the country in a house-bus. There's a snarky old granny, the concerned but wanting to be hip parents, and the annoying lead who falls for a dying hippie chick at a woodstock-type concert where they park for a while. There's some racist depictions of black hippies as basically African witch doctors, complete with bone through nose. I did not find any of the characters likable, which made this movie feel dragged out and ultimately lost any point it was trying to make about the counter-culture of the sixties. I say booo to this movie, try watching if you like old drugsploitation and sixties pulp stuff, but don't expect much.
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.
First let me say that I remember this film vividly from seeing it as a 10 year old when it first aired. I find it all quaint and sweet..from a time I remember fondly. It's part of a genre of movies from the period addressing changing social concerns: the ecology, anti-war movement, youth culture, changing views on marriage etc... This one, of course, was about narrowing the generation gap. It's the TV Movie version of this, however, with it's silly sweetness and attempt at depth. I am perhaps more tolerant of it as I am a fan of both 60's and 70's TV movies and Hippy/Generation Gap movies of the period. Yes..the music is trite and seems strange now. At the time it fit for a family TV Movie. The film would have been much improved by using more relevant rock music of the day (like The Strawberry Statement). By the way, I ditto the comments about great cast and standout acting by Bridges and Daley. 60's and 70's TV movie regulars McDevitt, Betz, Miles, Duff and Hunter are always worth watching. And yes, it is reminiscent of the Partridge Family in many ways. It seemed so at the time, too.
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