The Monkees alter the perception of reality by deconstructing their image with self-deprecating humor and curse the very audience that made them stars. Bob Rafleson’s head-trip into the cult of personality is a psychedelic time capsule, a dark reflection of the counterculture zeitgeist of the late 60s.
Rafleson structures the film with stream of consciousness precision and blends genres into an alchemical admixture of anti-establishment propaganda. The prefab four attempt the journey from adolescence into adulthood, imbuing their inane antics with adult concern. Rafleson utilizes flash cuts, jump cuts, elliptical editing with vignettes that reflect the brutality of the Vietnam war spliced with stereotypical hijinks: it’s an unsettling contrast. The Monkees themselves want to eat their cake…and have it to. They are a media-hyped illusion that has devoured the flesh and blood personas: Davey, Mickey, Mike and Peter have become the very thing they despise, their real names and identities now an illusion. HEAD tries unsuccessfully (though it’s nonetheless entertaining!) to break this enchantment.. When Mike laments that it’s a bummer to be a millionaire at the ripe old age of 25 because of the excess emotional baggage, his artistry barely recognized, it comes across as elitist prattle: I’m sure there are a billion people (your humble narrator included) who would trade places in an instant. Michael Hugo’s cinematography is beautifully psychedelic and opens up the Monkees from the 4:3 didactic and into a larger moral panorama.
HEAD is experimental and illusory in the best possible way with a subtle soundtrack that displays the talent of the self-deprecating tin band. The Monkees end their career by committing suicide by jumping off of the bridge and into placid waters.
Final Grade: (B+)