Take a Drink: for ANIMATION!
Do a Shot: for ANIMATION!
Take a Drink: when you’re certain someone speaking is stoned.
Take a Drink: if you dig any Dead songs or performances featured in this film.
Take a Drink: when the movie drags.
Do a Shot: when it turns into a horror movie (right after the song “Casey Jones”).
By: Bill Leon: (Five Beers) –
The wikipedia page for The Grateful Dead Movie– in its current state as of this writing- talks about how the movie focuses on fans more than a regular concert movie would- it’s also about a half hour to forty-five minutes longer than a typical concert movie would be. It says it “faithfully portrays the burgeoning Deadhead scene.” Maybe it did faithfully portray the burgeoning Deadhead scene but… man did it look like a scene I wouldn’t want to be a part of. And it says that there’s animation- it doesn’t mention the animation is the first fifteen minutes and then nowhere else. So after ALL of that…
“All these elements combine to make The Grateful Dead Movie much more than just a concert film.”
It’s a concert film… with a fifteen minute animated opening and an emphasis on Dead fans who look pretty bad throughout the movie. Really bad.
The aforementioned opening animation for The Grateful Dead Movie is almost entirely nonsense, but it’s nonsense of a very high caliber and it’s a lot of fun. Without a doubt it’s the single thing in this movie I would recommend no matter what.
Some of the concert is enjoyable here… Though I think I had more fun just watching the obviously stoned-and-beyond fans. If you think awkward fucked up hippies are funny, you should see this movie. A lot of the time, the audience becomes the star of the movie. Just look at Sugar Magnolia Guy dancing in the lobby.
I’m only a casual fan of The Grateful Dead. I know American Beauty, I know Blues for Allah, I’ve heard Workingman’s Dead at some point in my life… but I’ve never been of the opinion that their live stuff was better or worse than those albums. This concert film doesn’t see them at their best or their worst… but the whole jamming thing can get frustrating. All in all, I really doubt this is the legendary concert the blu-ray advertisements have lead you to believe.
For some reason after the song “Casey Jones,” the editors or directors decided that this needed to turn into a horror film for a few minutes… Seriously, look at it. It’s unsettling.
There is no reason for this to be almost two and a half hours long. There’s A LOT of stuff they could have cut out of this, whether it be behind-the-scenes footage of nothing happening, nonsense interviews with obviously stoned-out-of-their-minds fans, or SECTIONS OF THE FILM THAT TURN INTO A HORROR MOVIE FOR SOME REASON (See Beer Three). There’s an intermission card in the middle which leads me to believe that in theaters this movie actually had an intermission and that it’s meant to be so long because it’s like a Grateful Dead concert. I get what they were trying to accomplish here but on home video, it doesn’t fucking work.
The actual members of The Grateful Dead are barely interviewed in this. They include short interviews with them at the end- almost like it was an afterthought. But we have countless interviews of people who aren’t sober and sound like idiots.
The animation at the beginning steals the show. This movie was tailored specifically for theatrical screening and it wasn’t altered in its home video release. As a result it’s long, drawn out, and focuses on the wrong thing constantly… but it can be fun to watch the hippies. A true documentary focusing on how fucked up Deadheads were in 1974 instead of what made The Grateful Dead awesome in 1974.