Get Crazy (1983)
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It's a rare thing to see three such beauties as Gail Edwards, Stacy Nelkin, and Anna Bjorn all adorning the same film, but who on Earth in 1983 could have thought it would be the career highpoint for all three of them? Why isn't Malcolm McDowell's fantastically hilarious Mick Jagger send-up as celebrated as Bill Murray's Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack?" What more evidence do you need that life's unfair! How about one of the zaniest films since "Hard Day's Night" celebrating rock 'n roll passing though the chasm of time with barely a whisper of recognition? Ouch!
Okay, I'm through ranting. Since you are reading this, you don't deserve this spiel. You care enough to look through these reviews. Perhaps you even managed to find a copy of the film, which may be like climbing K2 for video collectors, forget DVD. Here's why "Get Crazy" is worth your time.
1. Killer songs - "Hot Shot" and "Take It No More" are pretty boss send-ups of hard rock and new wave from the period. The latter even has some great Shirelles-style harmonies and sax breaks, very B52s.
2. Spot-on sendups - McDowell is great as Reggie, even his last name is a funny dig at the head Stone. Strutting onstage with a giant codpiece and frilly tunic, McDowell has a lot of fun playing it very silly for a change, and the results suit him. It's great to see such a fine actor cutting up.
3. Goofy set pieces - I like the bit where King Blues is at the graveyard ceremony for his blues musician friend, and every other mourner is blind! Or when Reggie prods his girlfriend with a lobster claw. When we first see Lou Reed as the Dylan send-up Auden, he's lounging in the same pose and background as Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Home" album cover except everything's covered in cobwebs, including the girl with the ciggie! You have to watch this film a few times to pick up even most of the craziness.
4. Political incorrectness - You want sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll? "Get Crazy" has it. There's walking joints, ganja so potent it can suspend 220-pound blues legends in midair, and a strange thin man with no face and a suitcase stocked with pharmaceutical cornucopia. And plenty of nudity, even one actress in a bathtub playing a high school girl. Yet you can't really hold it against "Get Crazy," because the sex and drugs are there for jokes rather than titillation, sending up the lifestyle we all associate with the music.
5. Relevance to the time - The 80s were the decade of greed and ugly silver-plastic pants, so who is a better movie villain than Colin Beverly? He's played to perfection by Ed Begley Jr., star of such sleazy late-night R-rated period fare as "Private Lessons" and "Eating Raoul" and just oozing corruption from every pore. The clash of cultures between Beverly and Allan Garfield's idealistic Max Wolfe, owner of the Saturn Theater and hero of our story, makes for a nice microcosm of the period. It's like Michael Douglas taking on Martin Sheen in "Wall Street," only with some drop-dead bass guitar underneath. And then there's the other culture clash, that of New Wave performer Nada (Lori Eastside crossing Joan Jett with Toni Basil) and McDowell's take on Jagger's "Emotional Rescue" period, including a Keef substitute in John Densmore playing drums.
"Get Crazy" can be sad to watch. The director, Allan Arkush, had a lot of talent we never really got to see again because of this film's unfair fate. Likewise, it has too many good actors who never got another serious chance. There's also an eerie opening where Wolfe, riding a flying machine, crashes into an electrical apparatus, which is exactly how Wolfe's real-life basis Bill Graham died years later.
But otherwise this film is just a ton of fun, a time capsule that hasn't gotten a minute older for all the New Years that have passed between then and now.
Electric Larry was too much like people I went to high school with. I died watching this film.
My favorite scene is at the beginning at a bluesman's funeral - King Blues does the graveside eulogy, in which he says, among other things, ..."You were the greatest...musician, drinker of whiskey, and lover of women (minister starting to wince at this point)... 'God, this is my man, and if you don't take care of him, I'm gonna wax your a_s!" - thunder rumbles, minister backs away from the grave, and the blind a capella blues singers who've been crooning away all through the scene start bumping into each other, saying "'scuse me, scuse me" - one of them falls in the grave and yells "I'M NOT DEAD!!!!" - OK, it loses in telling - just get the film and enjoy!
I agree with the review, in all its enthusiasm and detail. This really is a time capsule--but unlike traditional capsules, this one doesn't get stale the second--or third, fifth, tenth...-- time you peruse the contents!
Today's Lou Reed is way too serious (what did you feed him full of anyway, Laurie Anderson?!?), so this is a great look back on my musical hero when he was still a real person. Love his unresolved meditation on "It's a Deathbed Request."
But you're sure to find resolution among the various takes on a favorite blues standard. Arena rock, punk, beyond-punk, blooos--take yer pick. You'll love the interpretations.
So--begin your search, and prepare for some great watchin'!
The name of this movie fits perfectly, it IS "CRAZY"! Every time I watch it, I notice something different, especially different characters in the crowd at the concert and other things in the background. Malcolm McDowell is one of my all time favorite actors and he puts on a great show, although he should stick to acting and NOT singing. Lou Reed plays a pretty decent song during the credits, so don't turn off the tape as soon as the credits start to roll! The other music consists of the same song in different forms, blues, metal, and whatever you want to call the version that Malcolm McDowell sings.
It's well worth a viewing, preferably on with friends and on New Years Eve!!
Featuring hilarious cameos by Lou Reed and Howard Kaylen (of The Turtles). If you see it on the shelves, rent it.
The rest of the cast includes even more colorful characters, namely: Daniel Stern as the overtaxed organizer of the star-studded New Year's Eve concert; Allen Garfield (billed as Goorwitz and portraying Stern's employer who is struck down by a mild heart attack); Miles Chapin (as Garfield's overly ambitious and treacherous nephew); Ed Begley Jr. (who, made up to resemble Andy Warhol, plays greedy billionaire Colin Beverly and is looking to buy off Garfield and take over his property); 1960s teen idol Fabian (unregonizable as one of Begley's monosyllabic henchmen!) Lee Ving (as an animalistic punk rocker, prone to head-butting anything from car booths to stone walls, and fronting an all-girls band!), Paul Bartel (as the proverbial "doctor in the house" who, overtaken by enthusiasm, eventually leaps off the balcony into the audience below!); and Robert Picardo (as an overzealous fire marshal); ubiquitous character actors Dick Miller (as Stern's father) and Mary Woronov also have cameos. As if all of the above were not enough source of entertainment already, we also have a Jewish Blues band, an electric ghost-cum-drug pusher(!), a motorcycle gang and Stern's overeager younger sister (to whom Reed croons "My Baby Sister" – a song later retitled "Little Sister" and issued in a Reed compilation album – over the film's end credits, a performance only witnessed by her, a dog and a human joint!); on the debit side, I do not think it was such a great idea to have all of the bands performing at the New Year's Eve concert doing their own take on the same song i.e. Willie Dixon's Blues number, "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man".
Apparently, McDowell had not read the entire script before accepting the role of Reggie W**ker and hence was not aware that he was expected to, at one point while inadvertently high on acid, conduct a conversation with his own dick (who is subsequently appointed the band's new manager!)...not that this should have unduly troubled the lead of Tinto Brass' infamous star-studded epic CALIGULA (1979)! On the other hand, while Lou Reed's character may have ostensibly been channeling Dylan (in its clear reference to those eight years in the wilderness following his 1966 motorcycle accident) but Auden (a reference to poet W.H. Auden, perhaps?)'s lifestyle and working methods – living with what looks like a transsexual (a reference to Reed's 1970s relationship with "Rachel") and composing lyrics right off of the streets (he spends most of the film stuck in a taxicab that takes him all the way out to the desert while strumming his guitar and coming up with lyrics) – is pure Lou Reed!
I had previously seen the film via a pan-and-scan screening on the MGM Cable TV channel but I eventually upgraded my copy to a Widescreen one in time for my mini-Bob Dylan tribute. From the director's other works, apart from ROCK'N'ROLL HIGH SCHOOL I am also familiar with DEATHSPORT (1978) and have just gotten hold of Hollywood BOULEVARD (1976) which he co-directed with Joe Dante. Curiously enough, Arkush had also directed the video for Bette Midler's cover of The Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden" - originally from their ground-breaking disco-tinged SOME GIRLS (1978) album!
When I found that Lou Reed was a star, I had no doubt that I was not wasting my time. Sure, it was silly, and even a bit affected (or over the top, camp), but some movies are simply meant to entertain a specific market (or type of viewer). In this case, I would say that this is a musician's movie, not because there is so much good music, but because it parodies that "rock and roll" lifestyle.
My favourite parts are, Lou Reed's journey while writing the song (I believe that the journey is supposed to be influencing it, but "Death Bed Request" is not a real song, as far as I know), and the dog being kicked across the room, by the person whom I believe to be the antagonist.
The best thing about it is Lou Reed's performance of Little Sister at the end