This is a real pot dream of a movie. A plot so thin you can’t find it and when you do, you can’t remember it. Something about stolen instruments belonging to the original Sgt. Pepper’s Band that must be recovered or the human race will never know happiness again. Hmmm.
I realize that it’s difficult to come up with a musical that allows you to use specific, not-necessarily-related songs, but Mama Mia did it with ABBA tunes, and MGM did it a hundred times, so this could (if not should) be better than it is. In all the splashes of color, the bursts of energy, and the occasional good dancing, there are bright spots: all of the singing is good and the performers are engaging. My favorite number is “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” performed by Steve Martin. Have to say though that I was startled to realize, about a third in, that the song is about a serial killer.
Peter Frampton plays the new Sgt. Pepper and the Bee-Gees play the Band. Aerosmith has one number as the Future Villain Band and Earth Wind and Fire do a number as well. Also Billy Preston from The Fifth Dimension sings the last song, which makes everything end happily. The Finale is the title song performed by a huge group of celebrities standing in front of (and on) what looks like the bleachers in an athletic field. I recognized Carol Channing, Tina Turner, Keith Carradine, Dame Edna, Connie Stevens, and Wolfman Jack. The “mob” is credited at the end of the picture, and I went back and found Bowser and Helen Reddy, but I’m sorry, I did not recognize most of the names.
It took me almost half of the movie to sort of find the rhythm and to relax and enjoy it, but I never did really like the mismatched performance levels. By that I mean George Burns was relaxed to barely conscious and Frankie Howerd was silent-movie hyper. I keep feeling that if I knew more about the music scene in the 70’s, and therefore knew more of the people involved (who is Frankie Howerd?) I would liked it more.