Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Groove Tube

The Groove Tube (1974)

Dir: Ken Shapiro (Modern Problems)

IMDB Rating: 5.6 out of 10

As return readers should know by now I am a pretty big fan of Sketch comedy and Sketch comedy films, Films like "Jokes My Folk's Never Told Me" , "Kentucky Fried Movie", And "Video Vixens" come to mind right off the bat. It seems that during the mid to late 70's these types of films were popular , no doubt duee to the huge success of the New York's huge smash television show that had just made it to the air, A little show you may have heard of called Saturday Night Live. However The Groove Tube pre dates that landmark show by a few months. Releasing in theaters June 1975 with SNL debuting in Oct. of the same year. So this film was certainly a trail blazer in the genre. I can see why films like this began poping up after the release of this gem but honestly I don't really feel this is the strognest in the genre, with the exception of a few trully funny spots.

Groove Tube is another film thats hard to write about being that there is no real story to follow , just being a series of sketches but I guess I'll start with the opening of the film. The first segment we see is a knock on A Space oddsey as we see a group of primitive beings as they lay around in their natural habitat before seeing a Television in the distance. They T.V. turns on and we get the opening credits while the gorilla's dance and play the films opening theme. Theopening theme is quite awesome as it is "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield. The song continues to pay as we flash forward to a young hitch hiker getting picked up by a lovely young lady. the couple pull over and horse play a bit and disrobe running nude through the woods. Until the man runs naked into a cop.

As the opening segment ends it is on with the sketches. They a mapped out much like programming on a local television station would be  and the first sketch is "The Koko Show". A children's program hosted by a clown who has a special segment called Imagination time where all members of the viewing audience over 10 are asked to leave the room. Then Koko proceed's to take requests from his younger viewers for story time, However the requests are truly questionable as he reads off a section from "Fanny Hill". A decent little sketch but nothing to noteworthy here. Next is an add for a toothpaste that really just misses the mark. followed by one of the funniest bits in the film , A commercial for a Barbie style doll set named Bab's and Roy. The advertisement shows the dolls getting married and then ttheir marriage falling apart mostly due to a lack of genitalia. The set pieces in this short sketch are rather funny and remind me of something you may see on something like Robot Chicken even today, with the exception of the figures staying stationary.

After the Advertisements the film hits a dead end with a truly lame attempt at spoofing cooking shows and then a boring economic debate segment that falls flat. The rut is only briefly saved with an Appearance by Chevy Chase in a ad for a vitamin supplement that apparently helped he and his wives sex life. Not laugh out loud funny stuff here but miles above it's surrounding sketches and it does feature some nice 70's nudity so it has that going for it I guess. The low point continues with yet another ad attempting to spice up the Yellow Pages.

 Much like many of these Sketch comedy films there is always a lengthier short played as a Feature Presentation and this one is no different as we are treated to the movie of the night. This is a pretty funny sketch called "The Dealers" starring the Director Ken Shapiro as "The Boss" and a young Richard Belzer as "Rodriguez". The two return home from a drug smuggling venture and take to selling pot to get ahead in life. However they are not very good at it as their paranoia gets the best of them fast and upon their first big sale they get nervous and think the rich white guy they are selling to is a fed. After flushing the goods the two trek back home only to get scarred when a cop is behind them. The guys begin tripping hard after eating a majority of their product in order to hide it and they dash into a movie theater where Rodriguez manages to get lucky with a lady in the audience. Upon returning home Boss begins hallucinating , When he is awaken by a man robbing their house for their stash. In a strange moment Boss opens up to Rodriguez about loving him , but misses the mark as the pleas for affection go right over his stoner buddies head. As the scene comes to a close a Public service from the Church goes across the screen playing this off as a propaganda film against drugs. Assuming they will make you freak out as well as turn you homosexual. This sort is another one of the few high spots in the film and the theme song is awesome.

Sadly from here the film hits another dry spell with a few fails and one long bomb with a news cast that turns out to be nothing but plays on words, making fun of foreign names . This has it's few moments but really just comes off as low brow as you can get without fart and burp sounds.The news is book ended with a few more fake ad's but none of them really stand out. We get a Beer commercial portraying drinkers as violent machismo fueled stooges , Which in some cases can be very true. A add for a strange Uranis Corporation that makes an odd material named Brown 35, You can guess what that looks like.

After the stretch of rather lackluster spots the film jumps back with a rather funny segment called "Wide World of Sports" where two commentators watch what appears to be scrambled porn and call it as if it were Olympic figure skating almost, Critiquing the performances and such. This sketch in particular I think would be funny in any film of this type made today as it couldn't make American T.V. due to the nudity involved but this plays out very well and I honestly laughed at this one pretty good. he next little bit is an odd one as the Democratic Debates actual footage is played and the voices are shut off and replaced with a scat tune to go along with the mouth movements and mannerisms. This one I enjoyed quite a bit and if any of you out there are familiar with Day Job Orchestra you will know why as this is along similar lines of humor. As the film nears it's end we get the movies most famous scene as young Chevy Chase sings "Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" while his band mate in matching uniform pats percussion along on Chevy's head. I remember seeing this sketch as  a child many times and my mother used to sing this song all the time. That little ditty is followed by the films most disturbing scene as a public service announcement for V.D. is belted out by a actual Ball sack and Penis dressed in a suit sitting on a park bench. At first glance I assumed it was a puppet due to the odd dwarf like size and what not but as the camera focuses in we do indeed get treated to some very odd looking genitalia for a good few minutes as it goes on about the signs of sexually transmitted diseases. Although this was not an easy sight to see the sketch itself was rather funny and I think anyone who see's this film for the first time will laugh out loud at this little segment. After cleansing your eyes, the film comes to a close with Director Ken Shapiro singing and dancing through the streets of New York in a kind of anti climatic ending.

Although this film is nowhere near my favorite of the genre I do have to give it some extra credit for being the trail blazer for films like "Kentucky Fried Movie" and others as if it were not for the success of this film we may never have even had SNL. This was certainly one of the door openers for Sketch comedy, I am sure there may have been something similar prior to this film but I have yet to find it, so perhaps this is in fact a first of ti's kind and if so I have to thank this film for making Sketch comedy so prevalent in today's time. As I stated there are allot of bits that miss the mark here but it kind of works out because it makes the funny bits hit just that much harder when they come around. This flick truly is a roller coaster ride in the worst sense of the word. Going from brilliant to pathetic in a matter of seconds. However I recommend this film to any fan of Sketch comedy and I feel it is worth a watch, I mean Comedy is truly subject to the viewer as what I don't find funny you may think is hilarious, I mean I know I like allot of stuff my friends absolutely hate. First thing that comes to mind Tim And Eric's Awesome Show Great Job!. On the flip side allot of my friends thought Andy Milonakis was funny and I could not stand it , so It's all up to opinion with laughs and there are some to be had here for everyone. Check this one out it ain't too hard to find.

Gore: N/A
Fun Factor: 6
Overall: 5.5 out of 10


  1. I bought the VHS of this movie for my sister one Christmas. We liked it since it was one of those movies that our parents let us watch on cable for only a couple of minutes then we had to change the channel or go to bed because it got too dirty and I was 5 at the time (the same thing happened with Heavy Metal). The funny thing is, I was sent to bed during Koko the Clown not the nekkid running. Of course we caught it later growing up. (Cinemax should it at 5 in the morning a couple years later so me and my sister watched the whole thing since we had early buses)
    That cooking segment is TORTURE!
    I always laugh at the caveman who banged two sticks together and made fire.
    Did you know that in the begining of Modern Problems, you can hear Koko the Clown show in the background since Ken Shapiro directed that flick too.
    And the V.D. sketch is classic!
    I think I might like this one a bit more since I got to see it earlier in my sketch movie viewing timeline. I saw Amazon Women on the Moon (classic!) first. Then I saw this one. Then I got to see Kentucky Fried Movie which is my favorite. Then I saw all the other which were for the most part bad.(Don't get me started on Outakes)

    1. Thanks again for the comments, I always think it's awesome that you check out my little tird of a site especially considering I am a fan of yours as well.I had seen this flick as a child too I just never thought it held a candle to Kentucky Fried which I saw first. I gotta place this one under Kentucky, Jokes my Folks Never Told me and Video Vixens for sure but maybe edges out The Sex o' Clock News. I know what you mean with the cable changing, I miss the old Skinemax days. Thanks again Mark and I just checked out the Adventures of the Action Hunters review, man that flick looked awful.

  2. Sometimes I feel like the ONLY person who WATCHED teevee because This actually played on ?ABC? out of NY During the DAY back in the 70's with No Editing!
    (I think it was about 1pm)
    Back then people would put things on but soooometimes you realized something got approved but nobody actually Watched it ahead of time!)