|Index||3 reviews in total|
The first time I saw this movie, I was in college. It was 1977, and I
was the projectionist. The movie was rated X (meaning that it wasn't
rated), and the advert that caught our eyes boasted names like Richard
Pryor and (Zen Bastard) Paul Krassner. I remember that I mostly laughed
a lot during the movie back then. I also remember that there were two
versions of the movie available from the people that provided the film,
including an "all white meat version" that was about ten minutes
shorter (we got the full version, so I've never seen that alternate
When I saw the tape at a music store in a mall about twenty years later, it brought back memories. Alas, twenty years takes a toll on dated material like this.
Having lived through the sixties and seventies, I can state for a fact that the movie provides a pretty accurate portrayal of the counter-culture from that era. As much as "Woodstock" showed the rock and roll heroes from that generation, "Dynamite Chicken" shows all the other aspects of that life, and not just "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" (although they all appear in the film!).
Richard Pryor comes out as sort of a spokesperson for this movie. He does a few stand-up bits, but if you want to see him at his best, you should instead watch the stand-up films he would make ten years later.
The basic plot of this movie seems to be, "Hey, let's get stoned and do a movie! We'll keep in all the stuff that makes us giggle." If some of the sketches fall flat, it's probably because they were still smoking things when they were trying to decide what was funny!
The movie ends up as an apparently haphazard collection of material and sketches from the likes of Al Goldstein (Screw magazine), the Ace Trucking Company comedy troupe, and Paul Krassner. In addition, Michael O'Donahue (the writer and Uncle Mike from the original Saturday Night Live, and author of the Bill Murray vehicle, "Scrooged") can be found here, narrating one of his early works, "Phoebe Zeitgeist," and also narrating some of the funnier sketches.
It's too easy to dismiss this movie as a cartoon replica of the counter-culture, but doing so would be an injustice. After all, this generation never took itself too seriously, unlike the generations that preceded it and followed it.
Now, thirty-three years after the movie was made, "Dynamite Chicken" is a sobering reminder about an interesting generation, and unintentionally forces an interesting contrast to today's generation.
After all, what can you say about a generation that wasn't too self-absorbed to actually go out and protest an unpopular war? A generation that dealt with racial bigotry and didn't simply sweep it under the rug? A generation that, for the first time, seriously considered treating women as equals? A generation that wasn't afraid to equally make fun of a former Democratic president and an incumbent Republican president?
I was drawn to this film by it's bizarre title, and I wasn't disappointed. It's basically a collection of satirical sketches with a lot of clips of Richard Pryors at his very best, for some reason doing stand up comedy to the camera on a basketball court. It's arranged into topics which were important in America at the time of it's release, such as war, drugs, national pride (or lack thereof), police brutality, feminism and others. Some more narrow minded individuals may find this film to be intensely irritating nonsense, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it to be at times hilarious, at others, poignant, but always weird.
A rambling incoherent collection of commentary, skits and "psychedelic"
Unless you have a historical interest about a particular person featured in the mess I would avoid watching this. I got it from a friend because a mutual friend of ours was in it. I tried to sit through it but was reduced to fast forwarding. I almost never do that.
If there was some sort of connecting thread between all the stuff that happens it would be bearable. The only thing I could see was a need for the director to get some counter-culture filler between his animated collages of newspapers and magazines and shots of naked women. He must have had a lot of fun filming them. The director's leaning are clear when he gives a lot of screen time to Al Goldstein of Screw Magazine.
Richard Pryor tries hard but, like most stand up comics, his routines flop without a live audience to bounce off of. One of the Ace Trucking, Co. skits did make me smile and it's interesting to see a young Fred Willard.
Be forewarned, some of the people listed as appearing are on very briefly. This one is barely worth a dollar in the second-hand shop.
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