(NOTE: Music That Sucks is the correct opinion of the author. Anyone who disagrees with me deserves to be euthanized.)
For the most part, I hate musicals with a passion. The majority of them are contrived and unrealistic, what with people spontaniously breaking out into song and dance at any given moment. With that said, I went into MTS with the mindset that musicals were not going to be inducted. After all, this isn't Movies That Suck.
That all changed when I saw Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band The Movie for the second time. I took it out of the local library with the intention of playing a cruel trick on my girlfriend. As I sat through this nearly two hour abomination I decided that I had to make a special consideration for what is quite possibly the worst musical ever made. You name a shitty musical and I'll bet you anything this one is worse. When MTS moved back to threestooges.net the first thought that came to my mind was eventually reinducting the lost inductions. Then came the realization that I would have to view this movie again. It's better to get this over with as quickly as possible.
When looking at musicals of the 1970's, one name that pops up frequently is Robert Stigwood. Stigwood is responsible for producing such movies as Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Grease. In the late '70's all four former members of The Beatles were alive and well, doing their own things. Ever since what is arguably the world's most popular rock band broke up, fans anxiously awaited a reunion. What they got in 1978 was Stigwood's greatest crime against humanity: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band The Movie.
Warning: This induction contains spoilers. If some reason you want to watch this mindfuck of a film and be surprised, stop reading now.
Our tale begins at the site of an unnamed battle during World War I. As it looks like the Kaiser's cronies are going to whip some Allied ass, fighting comes to a halt as brass band music is heard in background and is coming closer. It turns out, as our narrator tells us, to be none other than Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band. The baddies are distracted by the music, and Sgt. Pepper helps lead the Allies to victory. Pepper is awarded a "Golden Eagle" for his heroic efforts and heads back home to a small town called Heartland. Pepper and his band would continue to play in Heartland for years, and on 8/10/58 is comemorated with a weather vain in his likeness placed on top of Heartland's City Hall. Sarge keels over while playing at the ceremony, leaving the band's "magical" instruments to the residents of Heartland and in the care of the Mayor, Mr. Kite (George Burns) who is our narrator. His Golden Eagle is left to his favorite grandson, Billy Shears, while Billy's younger brother Dougie looks on enviously.
We then cut to "present day", and find out that Billy (Peter Frampton) is going to bring back Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He enlists the help of his best friends: Mark, Dave, and Bob Henderson (Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb respectively AKA MTS Inductees The Bee Gees). Dougie (Paul Nicholas) signs himself on as the band's business manager. You see, Dougie loves money (this will be important later on).
While the band is butchering the Sgt. Pepper opening and "With A Little Help From My Friends" to bits we are introduced to Billy's girlfriend, Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina), who is in the crowd listening to the group outside of City Hall. As the band is playing a telegram from Los Angeles comes alerting them that Big Deal Records is interested in signing them to a record deal. After the group has finished their song and the crowd disperses, Mr. Kite starts to imagine himself achieving the fame that seems inevitable for our young heroes. He then goes into an especially painful rendition of "Fixing A Hole" accompanied by two annoying little girls that you want to beat the piss out of. Nothing says "Call Dr. Kevorkian now" like sitting in front of the television while George Burns sings "Fixing A Hole". This is just the beginning, folks.
We cut to a scene in a barn where the band is singing "Getting Better" to a small group of fans. While this is going on we are introduced to the dastardly Mr. Mustard (Frankie Howerd) a "demented ex-real estate agent" who is working for an evil boss known as FVB. FVB communicates with Mustard via a computer inside the Mustard Van (a souped-up school bus). Also in the van are these cheesy-looking female robots called "Computerettes", who help keep Mustard on his mission of taking over Heartland. Accompanying Mustard is his driver and muscle, a guy by the name of Brute who wears boxing trunks and robe with his name on it. Another "important' piece of information: it appears as though Mustard has a hard on for Strawberry Fields.
The band gets another telegram requesting their presence in LA for a meeting with BD Records. Remember, they have just formed and have performed a total of two times in a podunk little town. The next morning Billy and Strawberry are sleeping in the barn until Strawberry wakes up and sings a douchy version of "Here Comes The Sun". While she sings the band and Dougie get ready to head for LA in a hot air balloon. While in the air a plane appears to be heading straight for the balloon. The two airborn vehicles collide, and instead of the band falling to their deaths and sparing the audience of 90 minutes more of this shit, they wind up inside the plane somehow. The plane bears the logo of BD Records.
At the airport, our heroes find the head of BD Records, creatively named Big Deal (Donald Pleasence) waiting for them with a stretch convertible. The band hops into the car while BD begins a collaborative rendition of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". BD does more of a spoken word thing with his part, sparing the audience from having to actually hear him sing. As the song drones on for what seems like hours, we are introduced to BD's other big act, Lucy and her Diamonds (Dianne Steiberg and some all female band called Stargard). We are then taken to what is referred to as a "typical record biz dinner", which quickly turns into a drug and drink induced orgy. Eventually, Dougie and the band sign a contract with BD, Billy having his wine drugged and taken into a bedroom by Lucy before being the last to sign.
Next up is the band's "one week climb from obscurity to stardom". Apparently BD controls just about every media outlet in LA. We start in the recording studio, where the band slices and dices "Good Morning, Good Morning". We then see the albums being pressed, and the band being mobbed by groupies at a Tower Records. An insanely sodomised version of "Nowhere Man" is next as the band appears on the BD Big Disco Show. The band continues to shit on the legacy of the Fab Four as they wipe their collective asses with a version of "Polythene Pam" and we see a venue having been sold out for at least a month. The group finds themselves on the covers of Time and Rolling Stone as they deficate on the Abbey Road montage for a bit, including "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window". The band soon has their own TV special on BDTV, where we see them gaying up the Sgt. Pepper reprise complete with uniforms similar to the ones John, Paul, George, and Ringo wore for the original album.
Cut back to Heartland where we see Strawberry and her family watching the special. A small bit of "The Long and Winding Road" performed by the band is heard as Ms. Fields is seen pining away for her Billy. We then check in Mr. Mustard in his "Mustard Mobile", getting a massage from the Computerettes. The freaky robot whores then go about to mechanically butcher the song "Mean Mr. Mustard". While all of this is going on Mustard gets word from FVB to steal Sgt. Pepper's magical instuments. He is told to bring the cornet to Dr. Maxwell, the tuba to Father Sun, the saxophone to FVB, and to keep the drum himself. Mustard and Brute proceed to hogtie and rape (hopefully) Mr. Kite and snatch the precious instruments.
With the instruments stolen, Heartland falls into a state of disarray. Punk kids, hookers, liquor stores, litter, saloons,and strip bars overtake the town. As Mustard is napping in the Mustard Mobile the computer shows us Strawberry Fields at her house and the Computerettes mutilate our ears with a cover of "She's Leaving Home". Strawberry's parents get in on the act, as Strawberry leaves them a note and heads to LA by bus. The Computerettes wake up Mustard, who wakes up Brute and instructs him to follow the bus.
As soon as she gets to LA, Strawberry comes across two billboards, one for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; the other for Lucy and her Diamonds. Strawberry begins to hallucinate and the billboards come to life before her eyes. What follows next is Lucy and her Diamonds performing, big surprise, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". Sgt. Pepper's Band leaves their billboard to join Lucy and Co., getting rather chummy in the process. Strawberry snaps out of it, and sets out to find the band and tell them what's going on in Heartland.
It takes her about five seconds to find the studio, where the band is annihilating "Oh Darling!". Around this time Mustard and Brute arrive in LA, and after Strawberry gets the group up to speed the lot of them head outside, steal the Mustard Mobile, and set out to recover the instruments.
First up is a trip is a trip to the offices of Dr. Maxwell Edison (Steve Martin), a corrupt plastic surgeon who loves money. Martin proceeds to deliver a way over-the-top rendition of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" while using his silver hammer to transform rich old people into rich young people with what appears to be Boy Scout uniforms on. We find out that these are not Boy Scout uniforms, but rather uniforms for FVB's evil army. Oh yeah, real evil and scary. The band sneaks in and a fight unsues. The band gets their asses handed to them in no time flat by Maxwell's nurses. These are not muscle-bound women mind you, average looking women proceed to whomp the asses of Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees. Frampton manages to escape the clutches of the nurses and fights it out with Maxwell in a dueling silver hammer fight that reminds me of a low-rent Star Wars showdown. Maxwell wins, leaving Billy Shears unconcious. Maxwell and the Nurses depart soon afterwards, but Strawberry Fields, who hid under the desk for the whole fight, has the Cornet. A quick note on this scene before I move on: Steve Martin tries so hard to do a "funny" rendition of Maxwell's Silver Hammer that it falls extremely flat and is the worst singing in the movie.
Back in the Mustard Mobile, Billy easily finds the drum that was in Mustard's possession, and the band set off for the headquarters of the Sun King (Alice Cooper, who has a mustache and looks eerily like Frank Zappa). Formerly Marvin Sunk an unemployed school crossing guard, his fortunes changed when he dropped the "K" from his name, according to our narrator Mr. Kite. When we meet him he is in the process of brainwashing "soldiers" for FVB's army with pseudo-psychodelic imagery and a rendition of "Because" that is done in this lousy nasally "villain" voice and makes the viewer wish they were getting fucked up the ass by Andre the Giant with no lubrication. The band sneaks in, and Bob Henderson fucks with volume controls; starting a brawl. Sun King starts to kick some Bee Gee ass until one of them gets in a sucker punch that sends Sunk reeling. Billy Sheers starts fucking around with the electical wiring and gets fried with "1000 volts". The band gets the tuba and drags Billy back to the Mustard Mobile.
Back in the Mustard Mobile, Strawberry (who probably does the best singing in the movie, like that says anything) revives Billy with a rendition of Strawberry Fields. The computer malfunctions before they can find out where the last instrument is. We then cut to the site of concert posters with the word "Cancelled" pasted over them and find out BD is not pleased with his #1 act missing. Dougie Shears comes up with an idea for a benefit show for Heartland. The intrepid heroes return to Heartland with a parade, and a version of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite" that probably would want to make Yoko reburn John's ashes just in case he were able to hear it somehow today. We then cut to later that night, as Dougie and Lucy sneak off to the Mayor's office to play with the money raised and belch out "You Never Give Me Your Money". Disco band Earth, Wind, and Fire show up at the benefit to recite a passable version of "Got To Get You Into My Life". Meanwhile Dougie and Lucy sneak off into the Mustard Mobile with the benefit money.
Soon enough Mr. Mustard and Brute arrive via taxi, and while everyone is distracted recover the Mustard Mobile and the instruments that had stolen. Dougie and Lucy proceed to hide before they are caught. Mustard sees Strawberry selling popcorn and has Brute kidnap her before they head off to FVB headquarters. Billy spots the Mustard Mobile driving off, alerts his bandmates, and they pursue the baddies in the hot air balloon that we thought was torn apart by the plane earlier in the movie. Mustard then sings "When I'm 64" to a bound and gagged Strawberry. Dougie and Lucy plan to take the money and jump out of the moving Mustard Mobile, but one of the Computerettes finds them and alerts Mustard. They too are tied up.
Next up we see the FVB headquarters, which is basically a staircase that leads to a platform that has a neon dollar sign on it. Strawberry is shown tied to the sign while we find out the FVB stands for Future Villain Band (Aerosmith). The FVB screech out a version of "Come Together", definately the most well-known cover in this movie, as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sneaks in. A catfight between Frampton and Steven Tyler ensues, with Tyler getting the upper hand and about to knock Billy Shears off the platform. Strawberry, still tied to the dollar sign, manages to push Tyler off the platform and to his death. Unfortunately for her and fortunately to those of us watching (for the time being, anyway) the dollar sign also falls over and Strawberry dies.
We learn that the instruments have been recovered, but all is still not well in Heartland as we cut to Strawberry's funeral. We are then mistreated to a rendition of "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight". After the funeral Billy heads down a long and winding dirt road, which of course brings us back to "The Long and Winding Road" and a memory montage. Billy eventually winds up at Strawberry's house, which has been foreclosed, and finds pictures of the two lovebirds together. The Bee Gees proceed to gut any artistry out of the opus of the Sgt. Pepper album, "A Day In The Life". Near the end of the song Billy prepares to jump from a window ledge just as the weather vain starts spinning wildly and turns into Billy Preston! Preston then zaps Shears just before he splatters, thus sending the audience home happy, and starts singing "Get Back", a song he actually worked with The Beatles on. Preston zaps Billy again, sending him back up to the ledge. Preston then zaps away all of the filth, saloons, strip bars etc; zaps Mr. Mustard and Brute into a Nun and Priest respectively. He then rezaps Mustard into a Cardinal, and zaps Lucy and Dougie into a Nun and Alter Boy. Preston then decides to do his best Al Jolson/Steppin Fetchit impersonation, dancing around the center of town. He then ruins the best moment of this Shittastrophy of a movie by zapping Strawberry back to life. He zaps the band into spiffy white Pepper outfits before "Getting Back" to where he once belonged, back on top of City Hall and returning to his metal form. I can't make this shit up.
The movie mercifully ends with the "Sgt. Pepper reprise", this time a knock off of the album cover featuring the cast of the movie standing alongside a slew of '70's B grade celebrities such as Seals and Crofts, Wolfman Jack, Carol Channing, Sha-Na-Na, Tina Turner, Leif Garrett, Helen Reddy, and many more.
So there you have it. The movie is now available on DVD, but hopefully I have convinced you not to see it all. Heed my advice folks, stay far away from this turkey.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band The Movie: a movie chock full of music...that sucks!