This movie is bad beyond redemption.
The book was no piece of intellectual brilliance
to begin with. It was the kind of book that impressed average
kids because it said something that they wanted to hear and
was easy to read. But it had some good questions about societal
conventions, even if it was lacking the depth to postulate
either a good reason why people pair off in the traditional way,
or a compelling reason to do otherwise. The book had one solid
point - that it is very possible that our psychological needs
would be better met with several life-partners than with one.
Indeed that is certainly true. Nobody can fulfill any other
person's complete psychological needs. That is why when we pair
off we don't go off to live in caves as isolated twosomes, but
retain our friends of both sexes. That is why after a few years
of marriage, couples go out with other couples rather than just
with each other. We have psychological appetites beyond the
capacity of a single partner.
Most sociological arrangements like marriage
and the age of majority are formed by the needs of the society.
We now believe that paired two-person serial monogamy and a
majority of about 18 are the most satisfactory ways to make
our society function. In the future, that may change, if society's
needs change. (In parts of Europe after WW2, there weren't many
able-bodied men left alive in many villages, so the rules
changed rapidly, but only temporarily, until the balance was
The group marriage solution postulated by the
book probably has as many problems as paired marriages. Various
elements of jealousy appear. Too many of the women prefer one of
the men, or vice-versa. But at least they are different
problems, so there is some intellectual freshness to the
concept, and it bases its ideas on an attempt to reason what is right for the
individuals and society, rather than conventional truths,
religious dogma, or simply revered tradition.
From that point on, it is a
basically a conventional
type of love story, but in an unconventional almosphere of nude group yoga,
nude group swimming, etc.
60's (actually 1967-1974) are now seen as the Golden Age of laughably dated flicks.
The movies sucked up to the youth of the time by championing
their politics, defined as unrestricted fuckin' (we called it
"free love"), plentiful drug takin' (we called it "expanded
consciousness"), dodgin' the draft (we called it "the peace
movement"), and disrespectin' authority (we called it "the movement").
In Hollywood terms, that meant these things would all be done by
very good looking young people in a non-confrontational way. All
power to the handsome people, brother!
After Easy Rider made beaucoup bucks, the
Hollywood moguls figured out that they could make some serious
moola by pandering to a generation which felt that a lack of
them morally superior to their parents. You remember their
parents. They were the evil, morally bereft people who fought the
Great Depression, defeated Hitler, rebuilt Europe and Asia, and
built the postwar economy that made my generation's life
comfortable enough that they could go to college and study
Hollywood took the
oversimplified book and chose to - simplify it. Because that's
the way Hollywood works. In the movies, our hero is about to get
in line for some food at an all-you-can eat buffet, he's really
hungry, and they're running out of food. Should he get in line
behind Shaq and Barkley, or should he get in the other line
behind Calista Flockhart and Jane Addams? If only real life were
The movie begins with winsome virgin Laurie
Walters arriving at Harrad College, where she starts walking
around and hugging trees. (That really happened). Then and
throughout the movie, we hear some mellow 60's faux-Donovan music sung by
various people including -
Miami Vice's Don Johnson. It doesn't get any better than that,
but it tries. You see, Harrad is an experimental sex college,
but some of the students don't want to have sex. Let me repeat
that - they are college students, enrolled in a sex college, but
they are reluctant to have sex. Apparently their guidance
counselors never told them about any other colleges. And how
many college students do you know, even in non-sex college, that
don't want to have sex? I don't think these are the Animal House
kind of college students. In fact, they probably are also
reluctant to embrace free thought and to drink beer.
This is really the perfect
college for guys to attend, because all the guys are losers, fat
guys, and geeks except Don Johnson, and all the girls are pretty hot.
Despite this apparent inconsistency, most of the women want sex
from the nerds all the time, and the faculty encourages them to
do so. Groovy, brother! Hell, I want to go to Harrad! The
tuition must have been pretty pricey, because they have a campus
that compares to Harvard, all supported by the tuitions of about
Big spoiler coming - the movie
ends with a group hug! And it's not trees, but people. Are you surprised?
You'll love the background
music throughout the film. All the punch lines are accompanied
by wah-wah mutes and rim-shots, just like an episode of
Gilligan. Dramatic moments are punctuated with drum rolls (I'm
not kidding). The kids go into town to attend a performance of
those groovy hepcats, The Ace Trucking Company, who were
ubiquitous in all media for about five years. For you younger guys, this is a lesson not only in the
way we were, but in the way we had barely enough sense to avoid.
If you are into firing up and watching movies that are unintentionally funny,
you'll find this hilarious. Damn, I wish that MST3000 would do
this as their next movie project. Now THAT would be a great
think that back in the early 70's many of us thought that this
film had merit because we agreed with its iconoclastic view of
society's arbitrary rules for male-female relationships. Today
the expression of that iconoclasm seems naive and simplistic,
the film moves at a snail's pace, and the casual coupling
encouraged by the university seems downright dangerous in
today's more hazardous sexual climate.
Plus it was made for a couple hundred thousand dollars, the
production values are nil, and it's just plain boring unless you're stoned out of your
the way, this is the movie where Don Johnson (then in his
twenties) met and courted Melanie Griffith (then 15), with the
full permission of her mother, Tippi Hedren, who is also in the