By: Oberst Von Berauscht & Bill Leon (Six Pack) –
-Bill L: Tommy the album tells a story that ultimately satirizes the rock n roll culture of the late 1960s. Tommy the movie tells a story that ultimately should be satirized. Visuals, rock n roll, and drugs combine to create… a giant fucking train-wreck
-Oberst: Tommy is an adaptation of the rock opera of the same name by The Who. Director Ken Russell tells the story of deaf-mute and blind boy Tommy Walker (Roger Daltrey) and his rise to fame as a professional Pinball player and eventually as a spiritual icon.
-Bill L: From start to finish, this is a psychedelic, overly symbolic disaster which wears its ambition on its sleeves. Any given five minute segment of this film brings more joy and laughter to me than most comedy films. This is so-bad-its
-Oberst: Tommy the movie set the precedence that big-budget rock and roll concept albums could be translated to the big screen and see financial success. This paved the way for many music movies that would further refine the concept. While rock and roll movies such as A Hard Days Night had enjoyed success, without Tommy, I doubt Pink Floyd’s The Wall (the film) would have been made.
-Oberst: The music for the film was entirely re-recorded from the original album, and the new versions somehow manage to underwhelm at nearly every turn. The Who’s album Tommy has not aged as well as later, more polished concept albums might have, but it still manages many moments which transcend age. As presented here; the songs of Tommy have far less impact, often verging on self-parody. In that regard, some songs are performed with such lack of sincerity, I find it hard to believe they were even trying.
-Bill L: I don’t really get that so much from the music. The soundtrack chooses many times to have its songs sung by non-singer
-Oberst: The celebrity cameos, such as Jack Nicholson, Elton John, and Eric Clapton, feel inserted for very little reason, other than to add to the Marquee-value.
-Bill L: Elton John probably gets the best cameo. At the very least, the most dignified.
-Oberst: The production design of the film feels overwrought, with giant sprawling sets that somehow still feel cheap. The emphasis seems to have been on quantity over quality. Particularly at the end, when Tommy’s Holiday camp is constructed, the set is dotted with enormous metal balls.
Or in the Christmas scene where balloons, wild hats, and various adornments are used to excuse the made for TV-house in which it is filmed.
The story behind Tommy isn’t particularly deep, but these feel like a middle-aged director who is desperately trying to do something he perceives as “youthful”.
-Bill L: The production design is just as off the wall and out of control as anything else in the film. Grand yet somehow flacid at the same time. When you have an epic scene where a woman humps a dick-shape
-Oberst: What the hell is up with the Acid Queen?
-Bill L: Elton John yes. Tina Turner no. At least on screen. Tina Turner is a scary, coked up mental patient and she loves getting right up in that fisheye lens. It is intimidati
-Oberst: The Humane Society wouldn’t allow a filmmaker to kill off a herd of horses to film a scene, so why does the film’s finale feature dozens of pinball machines being destroyed? Pinball machines are awesome, and and it saddens me knowing how hard it is to come by a working machine nowadays, and how many of these suffered the wrath of Tommy in the name of art. (If anyone could do us at Movieboozer the service of donating one working-condition Pinball Machine, we would be greatly appreciative!)
-Bill L: The Pinball worship gets out of control at a rapid pace. The use of a pinball as symbolism is misguided, confusing, and more often than not entirely pointless. (But then again most of the symbolism in this film is as well.)
-Oberst: An often confusing and wrong-headed adaptation of The Who’s seminal Rock Opera.
-Bill L.: Bloated, self-indul
Take a Drink: for every out of place celebrity cameo
Take a Drink: each time you cringe
Drink a Shot: when Uncle Ernie (Keith Moon) rapes Tommy…
Drink a Shot: for the poorly green-screened “I am Free” sequence
Take a Drink: each time a song is inferior to the original album (Ok, so pretty much drink throughout the film).