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Beach Boys - An American Band

By Kristian St. Clair

A magnificent DVD pairing for Beach Boys fans, these two stylistically different films here pretty much represent the two sides of "America's Band." First up is The Beach Boys: An American Band, made at the height of their Reagan-era resurgence after then Interior Secretary James Watt banned them from performing at the nation's capitol on the 4th of July. A colorful, upbeat film, it doesn't entirely gloss over the more downbeat aspects of the Beach Boys saga (parental abuse, mental illness, uncomfortably tight pants, loads of drugs, and Charles Manson), though it does go out of its way to give the story a happy ending, despite the recent death of drummer Dennis Wilson and the group's complete creative standstill. However, what it lacks in perspective, it more than makes up for in priceless footage, including Smile-era studio outtakes, the unreleased 1967 concert in Hawaii, numerous TV appearances, and extensive interview footage from the mid-'70s.

I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, on the other hand, goes more out of its way to show the long dark path of head Beach Boy Brian Wilson. While Wilson is now acknowledged as the Mozart of the late 20th century, director Don Was gives us a stark black-and-white portrait of a troubled artist still struggling to get his life back. His reminiscence of dad Murry Wilson's beatings is chilling, and Wilson is as comfortable as he'll ever be in front of the camera bragging up his drug use ("Cocaine... the works... put me in jail") and randomly quoting Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. Through it all, Wilson comes across as a complete original, and if the reworkings of his classic songs don't quite match up to the originals, give the guy a break--he just wasn't made for these times.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Not RatedNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Don Was

Stars: Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, Jack Benny, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Carson, Paul McCartney, Bob Hope

Released: September 29, 1985

Availability: DVD VHS


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