Through concert performances and interviews, this film offers us an "inside look" at this famous rock group, The Who. It captures their zany craziness and outrageous antics from the initial formation of the group to its major hit "Who Are You", and features the last performance of drummer Keith Moon just prior to his death.Written by
Concorde - New Horizons
At the end of the opening "Smothers Brothers" clip where The Who demolish their equipment, Keith Moon's bass drum with the Who logo on it explodes, and the very same logo spirals forward to the middle of the screen. Then the words of the title of the film pop up from the bottom of the screen while Pete Townshend smashes Tommy Smothers' acoustic guitar. See more »
The version of the film that appears on Turner Classic Movies features The Who's Rock N' Roll Circus performance window-boxed and surrounded by flashing marquee lights in the manner of the film's original theatrical presentation. See more »
While "The Last Waltz" is usually the critics' favorite rock movie, "The Kids Are Alright" has always done it for me. Basically, we have a career overview of one of the greatest rock bands ever, with numerous characteristics that make it truly exceptional.
Here's what makes this movie really unique: First, it was made by a fan, which gives it a fan's perspective (often more perceptive than a band's own self-image or, needless to say, the perception of a record company employee). But more importantly, the Who, always one of the most "down-to-earth" (and self-critical) rock bands, were willing to co-operate with the filmmaker (Jeff Stein), even going so far as to perform two exclusive concerts for the purpose of filming.
The movie thus comes together as a fan's dream: a comprehensive selection of live clips that span the band's career up to that point (including brilliant early footage and such career-defining performances as Woodstock and the band's appearance on the Smothers Brothers' TV show), along with truly insightful interview footage.
One comes away from this movie with a genuine appreciation for the combination of creativity and humility that really made the Who unique among "superstar" rock bands. Can you imagine Led Zeppelin referring to their own work as crap in the middle of "The Song Remains The Same"? The Beatles created their own career-spanning retrospective 15 years later with "The Beatles Anthology", but that film, made 25 years after the band broke up, seems much more concerned with defining and cementing the band's place in history (especially the McCartney interview segments) than with presenting the band "warts and all".
Even in "The Last Waltz", while much of The Band is somewhat disparaging about their early careers, there is still a real sense that Scorcese and Robertson are attempting to define a historically significant moment in time rather than just capturing The Band as it was (I've read that the rest of the Band members didn't even know Robertson was planning to break up the Band until after the concert!).
By contrast, "The Kids Are Alright" provides us with a refreshingly honest portrait of a band who have always tried to be honest with their fans. By combining the perceptive eye of a true fan with a cooperative band who weren't concerned with protecting (or defining) their "image", we are left with a true rarity: a documentary on a "superstar" that is neither concerned with deifying nor tearing down its subject, but instead gives us a truly satisfying (and entertaining) portrait. Plus, some of the best "70s Arena Rock" ever recorded! All in all, it adds up to a minor masterpiece.
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