15 May 2005 | lar3ry-imdb
The first time I saw this movie, I was in college. It was 1977, and I was the projectionist. The movie was rated X (meaning that it wasn't rated), and the advert that caught our eyes boasted names like Richard Pryor and (Zen Bastard) Paul Krassner. I remember that I mostly laughed a lot during the movie back then. I also remember that there were two versions of the movie available from the people that provided the film, including an "all white meat version" that was about ten minutes shorter (we got the full version, so I've never seen that alternate version).
When I saw the tape at a music store in a mall about twenty years later, it brought back memories. Alas, twenty years takes a toll on dated material like this.
Having lived through the sixties and seventies, I can state for a fact that the movie provides a pretty accurate portrayal of the counter-culture from that era. As much as "Woodstock" showed the rock and roll heroes from that generation, "Dynamite Chicken" shows all the other aspects of that life, and not just "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" (although they all appear in the film!).
Richard Pryor comes out as sort of a spokesperson for this movie. He does a few stand-up bits, but if you want to see him at his best, you should instead watch the stand-up films he would make ten years later.
The basic plot of this movie seems to be, "Hey, let's get stoned and do a movie! We'll keep in all the stuff that makes us giggle." If some of the sketches fall flat, it's probably because they were still smoking things when they were trying to decide what was funny!
The movie ends up as an apparently haphazard collection of material and sketches from the likes of Al Goldstein (Screw magazine), the Ace Trucking Company comedy troupe, and Paul Krassner. In addition, Michael O'Donahue (the writer and Uncle Mike from the original Saturday Night Live, and author of the Bill Murray vehicle, "Scrooged") can be found here, narrating one of his early works, "Phoebe Zeitgeist," and also narrating some of the funnier sketches.
It's too easy to dismiss this movie as a cartoon replica of the counter-culture, but doing so would be an injustice. After all, this generation never took itself too seriously, unlike the generations that preceded it and followed it.
Now, thirty-three years after the movie was made, "Dynamite Chicken" is a sobering reminder about an interesting generation, and unintentionally forces an interesting contrast to today's generation.
After all, what can you say about a generation that wasn't too self-absorbed to actually go out and protest an unpopular war? A generation that dealt with racial bigotry and didn't simply sweep it under the rug? A generation that, for the first time, seriously considered treating women as equals? A generation that wasn't afraid to equally make fun of a former Democratic president and an incumbent Republican president?