Every band should have a fan like Jeff Stein, who compiled this scrapbook of The Who. Fans will be delighted with the range of clips (including new concert footage) showing the British band at its anarchic, sarcastic, roaring best. Others couldn't ask for a better introduction, despite the
film's lack of narration or titles to guide the viewer.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT opens with The Who's 1967 appearance on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Guitarist Pete Townshend and drummer Keith Moon generally ended sets by smashing their instruments, but this night, eager to make an impression on American TV, Moon rigged his drum kit with far too
much gunpowder. The resulting explosion wounded Moon and shocked everyone else (fellow guest Bette Davis reportedly fainted backstage--would that a camera had caught that). When host Tommy Smothers wanders onstage with his acoustic guitar, a dazed Townshend pulls it off him and smashes it against
That sets the tone for the rest of the film, which mixes vintage clips of The Who on 1960s television shows with interview segments, promotional films, and new concert footage. Little of it is less than compelling, as The Who were one of rock's most charismatic bands: skinny, big-nosed Townshend
with his stage leaps and windmill guitar slashes; singer Roger Daltrey, competing with Townshend with an equally ferocious voice; bassist John Entwistle, the calm in the eye of the hurricane, technically adept enough to play melodic leads on an instrument usually reserved for rhythm; and Moon,
whose personality was as maniacal as his drumming.
Moon and Townshend dominate the film, in both the performance clips and in the other segments. Townshend's tendency to pontificate about the relationship between rock band and rock audience is balanced by his self-mockery, while Moon was rock's Jerry Lewis, willing to do anything for a laugh,
preferably a shocked one. He gives one interview bound and wearing a leather masked while being whipped by a semi-naked dominatrix. Sadly, the concert footage shot for this film was his last performance; he died several months after. (His obvious drunkenness in some scenes fails to detract from
the humor of his antics, a contradiction the viewer has to accept; the film makes no apologies for his behavior.) THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (ironically, the title song is not used in the film) is all surface, but what a raucously glorious surface it is. (Profanity.)
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- Released: 1979
- Rating: PG
- Review: Every band should have a fan like Jeff Stein, who compiled this scrapbook of The Who. Fans will be delighted with the range of clips (including new concert footage) showing the British band at its anarchic, sarcastic, roaring best. Others couldn't ask for… (more)