By temperament I am attracted to the weird, the outlandish, the flamboyantly useless. I once wasted eight hours of my life watching the entirety of Andy Warhol's "Empire." I listen on a fairly regular basis to Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music"--it has that soothing white-noise effect; probably keeps the cockroaches away, too.This is my way of explaining how I recently saw one of the biggest Hollywood disasters of the early '70s and almost liked it.
Exhibit A is The Phynx, from 1970, a crassly heavy-handed attempt to cash in on the youth-rebellion fad before it passed. Nice try, guys. It must have looked good on paper: There's a Monkees-type rock band (the titular Phynx); a trendy spy-parody plot about Communists kidnapping washed-up Hollywood actors; lots of madcap whimsy calculated to appease the "head" crowd; and original songs by the legendary Leiber and Stoller team. To this, add cameo appearances from Richard Pryor to Colonel Sanders and many points in between--they even got Joe Louis to say a few lines--and what you have is...a mess, actually. But it goes down fairly easy.
To be sure, The Phynx isn't very funny, though it does not stop trying for a minute to be manically absurd. The off-kilter humor ("This is important!" "So's dandriff" "This is bigger than dandriff!") generally fails to come off. It's silly--not in a terribly good way, either--but admittedly the silliness can be infectious: When you're trying this hard to be whacked out, you will inevitably succeed at least part of the time, in this modest goal if at nothing else. That doesn't make The Phynx seem any less shoddy, incoherent, and gummed-together, unfortunately. The movie doesn't add up to much in particular.At least it's better than "Myra Breckinridge." Maybe.