Picks and Pans Review: The Beach Boys: An American Band

updated 07/01/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/01/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

In a way, this is the kind of project The Last Polka lampoons. It is an almost reverential look at the band that surfed onto the charts in 1962. But the Beach Boys are, after all, an institution on the order of Frank Sinatra or the Benny Goodman Orchestra. And while the members of the group cooperated with director Malcolm (This Is Elvis) Leo, they were only relatively candid. Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys' reclusive main composer and producer, discusses his nervous breakdown and experiments with LSD and hashish; he even makes fun of his reputation as a recluse by talking to an interviewer while lying in bed with the covers pulled up to his chin. There is some rare home-movie footage, including a birthday party for Brian attended by Paul McCartney, clips of Beach Boys TV appearances (Bob Hope and Jack Benny do a surfer routine in one) and plenty of performing sequences. (The sound with a hi-fi stereo VCR is exciting.) Some band members' private problems are ignored: Carl Wilson's draft evasion case and the multimarriage romantic sagas of Mike Love and Dennis Wilson aren't mentioned. The tape goes all the way up to Dennis' drowning death in 1984 and is a sensible mixture of music and group biography. Beach Boy fans, at least, will find it fun, fun, fun. (Vestron, $79.95)

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