Tommy (1975)

TommyposterBy: 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.

A Toast

-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-good on the level of Birdemic or The Room for me. As far as genuine “good” in this film… I suppose that seeing The Who fronted by Eric Clapton -although lackluster– is a noteworthy and enjoyable collaboration.  It was also nice to see Elton John make a cameo but…

Fuckin Clownshoes!

-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.

Beer Two

-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-singers with varying results. When Keith Moon is a better singer than you, STOP FUCKING SINGING.

Beer Three

-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... and thats saying something considering how ridiculous he looks. Dressed like a child and in some platform clown shoes (see above). His cover of “Pinball Wizard” was so good he actually scored a minor hit with it.

Beer Four

-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.

Some are held for charity, others for fancy-dress…

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 5.21.44 PM
If they were going for “cartoon”, they succeeded

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-shaped pillow, you know you’re creating symbolic majesty and the worries you might have had prior will be washed away by a powerful spray of chocolate and baked beans ejaculating onto Ann-Margret’s tits.

Beer Five

-Oberst: What the hell is up with the Acid Queen?

Jesus Christ…

-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 intimidating to say the least.

Beer Six

-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.)


Six Pack

-Oberst: An often confusing and wrong-headed adaptation of The Who’s seminal Rock Opera.

-Bill L.: Bloated, self-indulgent, and about a half a decade behind with its pretentious ambitions and artistic sensibilities. These are all the qualities about Tommy that make it the most endearingly bad movie musical of all time.


Drinking Game

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).

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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