Shout! Factory // 1968 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 27th, 2014
No more Hoovering!
By the end of 1968, the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up, but George Harrison was already getting started on new projects, which included writing the score for Joe Massot's (Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same) first feature film, Wonderwall, the most hippy-dippy pile of garbage I've ever seen. I'm sure fans of the Beatles and 70-year-old Woodstock attendees will love this awful blast from the past, reminding them of all the stupid psychedelia left behind decades ago for good reason.
An elderly scientist and butterfly enthusiast, Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran, The Fearless Vampire Killers), is repressed and alone in his apartment when he sees a beautiful woman dancing through a small hole in his wall. His voyeuristic tendencies make him want to see more, so through increasingly larger holes, he opens himself up to a whole new world: The Swingin' Sixties. But he's afraid and his life still lacks excitement, so he just watches. Soon that life starts to bleed into his and he becomes the dream of every British man born in the 1920s...he becomes a hippy.
Good lord, what a travesty Wonderwall is. I hate describing movies this way, but it's hard for me to think of this as anything more than a cross between the Carry On films and the original version of The Wicker Man; a combination of concepts no one should want to watch!
But they do, because the one thing that's advertised about Wonderwall and it's not cinematic quality, is the fact that Harrison composed the soundtrack. Be warned, however, this is a clear appeal to Beatles fans with no actual payof, because one still has to watch the movie, and the soundtrack isn't very good. Clearly still in his Indian phase, Harrison is terrible writing for the sitar and not all that great in the first place, so this is certainly no selling point for me.
The only plus here is watching Jane Birkin, one of the most amazingly gorgeous actresses ever to grace the screen. She's not portraying character here, though. Instead, she's just being a fashion model who loves sex and drugs, and has no life outside of that scene. If there was ever a cinematic objectified woman, Birkin's Penny Lane is it.
Beyond that singular benefit, the rest Wonderwall is a bunch of dancing and drug use, and crappy animation by a second rate studio. This episodic piece of garbage is a collection disconnected scenes with no discernible narrative and even less heart. If you want to watch hippies run around taking bong hits and gyrating, here you go. I'm just not up for that ride and never will be.
Though my hate for the film is palpable, there's no question Shout! Factory has done its all for this Wonderwall (Blu-ray) release. First, they include both versions of the film -- the 90 minute theatrical release and the 70 minute director's cut (at least Massot had some perspective). The latter isn't better because it's shorter, the experience is a whole lot tighter. The 1.66:1/1080p HD visuals are stellar for both, with psychedelic colors that pop, accurate flesh tones, bright whites, deep blacks, and exceptional level of detail throughout the frame. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track sounds great, as it should given how important the sound is to this experience. The all-important George Harrison music, if you like it, is full and large in this mix. The dialogue isn't worth listening to, but it's strong as well.
Extras are nothing to sneeze at either. Reflections on Love is a short film by Massot that paved the way for this feature (thanks for that). It may not be better than Wonderwall, but at least it's shorter. An outtake gives us another George Harrison song. Some music focused featurettes, none of which are about the production, are really just sorry excuses for music videos. Promotional content includes a gallery of images, a publicity booklet, PR text files, actor bios, theatrical trailer, and a pretty solid booklet, all of which serve fans quite well.
I hate Wonderwall. It's the most obnoxious piece of '60s garbage I have ever seen. Worthless in every way. However, there is plenty of appeal for George Harrison fans and old hippies, so drop that sugar cube and go to town.
Review content copyright © 2014 Daryl Loomis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Cut
* Alternate Opening
* Short Film
* Music Video
* Text Files