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Total Crap85.71%

1 review, 1 rating

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by U.J. Lessing

"Make Love, Not Movies"
1 stars

I truly believe that when taking on a film that’s: A. shot on video, B. funded with very little money, and C. cast with performers that clearly don’t make a living in the field of acting, reviewers should mainly focus on constructive criticism and cut the movie a bit of slack. Unfortunately, “Hippies,” makes criticism of this type impossible. Its simplistic approach to its subject, dilution of simple jokes, and lack of any basis in reality make it an awkward and difficult movie to watch.

Shot entirely in beautiful Eugene, Oregon and directed by S. Michael Phillips, the film follows five hippy friends who are visiting Eugene from Berkeley for Preservation Week. These five aren’t exactly the intellectual smart type. What we have here are the kind of pot smoking moronic hippies we've seen on bad sitcoms and movies for ages. Oh, and one isn’t wearing pants.

Once they arrive, the drugged-out gang experiences various embarrassing encounters: An SUV driver harasses the hippies. The cops hassle the hippies. The hippies try to liberate some fish but end up killing them. The hippies try to stop woodcutters from chopping down a tree. The hippies protest a McDonalds, but they get too hungry and give in to temptation. The hippies go home.

These scenes play out like improv exercises in an acting class, not like scenes that belong in a movie. One wishes that the production designers were familiar with terms like “character development” and “plot points.” The editing is pretty decent, but this film has more padding than a bean bag chair.

Every character is a cliché and derivative. In the film’s eye, hippies are all unoriginal imitations of Jim Breuer, Rik Mayall and Tommy Chong, old people are deaf and talk with a shaky, high-pitched voice, and the police are violent and beat people up for no reason. Even African-American culture suffers here, with black youths being portrayed as short-tempered and violent.

One gets the sense that the writers spent way to much time in their basements watching edited movies on Comedy Central and not enough time meeting real human beings.

Clichéd humor can sometimes succeed if the jokes are fast and funny. In fact, most low-budget filmmakers overcompensate for their shortcomings by cramming their movies full of half-baked slapstick gags. Here we have the opposite. Each scene contains only one or two overly drawn-out jokes that simply aren’t funny.

Humorous situations without jokes do not work.

The most painful moments in “Hippies” occur when gags are repeated endlessly. After the hippies inadvertently kill two captive fish, the action cuts to the fish corpses a staggering fifteen times. A deaf old man attempting to order fast food screeches, “eeehhhh?” a mind-boggling ten times. Cripes.

A real opportunity was lost here. One wonders if anyone at all in the production ever actually had any dealings with real hippies. I imagine that the transient hippy population that floats into Oregon from western cities like Boulder and Berkeley would have made an excellent target for a satirical work, but that would have required some research. Instead, all that “Hippies” can offer us is humor that’s as old and stale as a VW Bus's ashtray.

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originally posted: 08/29/06 06:46:46
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User Comments

9/04/06 Kathie Doughan So much fun for Eugenians! 4 stars
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  DVD: 20-Apr-2006



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